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October 3, 2022

Coachella – Music Festival or Influencer Event?

By Hattie Pickering, Intern HJ-PR

Garnering over 750,000 attendees each year and securing the biggest names in the music industry as headliners, Coachella is an internationally recognized festival. Started in 1999 as a 1-day music event, Coachella has grown over 20+ years to become so much more than a festival. Now taking place over 2 weekends, Coachella pulls in visitors from across the globe, promising an experiential music, fashion, and lifestyle event. 

This is directly reflected across social media. In 2018 there were over 460,000 posts during the first weekend, with an estimated total media impact value of $116 million (Launchmetrics, 2018). Unsurprisingly, with figures like these, brands have been quick to jump on the Coachella hype. The 2022 festival was no different with a wide scope of brands and companies hosting parties, pop-ups, and brand activations. Brands such as Revolve, Absolut Vodka, and Spotify, all the way through to American Express and HP, utilized Coachella in an effort to gain coverage across social media. By selecting and partnering with established influencers, brands are able to leverage paid, earned, and social media coverage during a heightened period of interest – with many news outlets detailing the biggest and best brand activations from the festival each year.

However, with the rise in commercialization, Coachella has faced criticism. What was once a festival for music-lovers has seemingly turned into a content farm, with a who’s who of celebrities and influencers. While beneficial for brands to gain exposure and coverage across social media, critics have pointed out that Coachella now faces the risk of straying too far from its origins. Will the biggest names in the music industry want to perform to crowds preoccupied with snapping selfies and capturing content? Does Coachella have a place in the music festival industry anymore, or should it pivot to a full-blown influencer x brand event?

Personally I don’t believe that Coachella can survive without the music festival tie-in, it’s what established it and has made it a destination for the past 20 years. However, the further away from the music it moves, the more alienated the general public becomes, pushing the brand activations and influencer content to the forefront. I think Coachella would be wise to reframe its position, pushing for a greater focus on the music and general admission, limiting the number of brand partnerships and content-focussed events.

However, I also believe that Coachella’s current state is something that should be taken note of across the industry. Although organic in its evolution, there is seemingly a space in the market for a specifically curated festival, where brands and influencers can work together, with the sole purpose of content creation and media coverage. Whether this is tapped into is yet to be seen, but in the meantime there’s always Coachella 2023.

Launchmetrics. 2018. The Data Behind Coachella and Beychella 2018. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 27 September 2022].

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