Coachella Is Once Again The Highest Grossing Festival In The World

Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival
John Davisson
– Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival
Music critics can analyze Coachella’s lineup and tastemaker status over and over again but one factor that’s not up for debate is just how successful the most recent edition was. The Southern California event is once again at the top of Pollstar’s newly released Year End Worldwide Festival Grosses chart, with a record-setting gross of $114,593,000.
The Goldenvoice/AEG Live-promoted event has held the No. 1 spot since Pollstar began releasing a festival grosses chart in 2012 as part of our Year End special features – with the exception of 2016, when the festival fell to second place behind Goldenvoice President Paul Tollett’s very own Desert Trip.  
Comparing the past two years, the 2017 edition (headlined by Radiohead, Lady Gaga and Kendrick Lamar) grossed $20,375,000 more than 2016’s event (topped by LCD Soundsystem, Guns N’ Roses and Calvin Harris) – an increase of 21.63 percent. 
The larger paycheck is thanks to a large jump in capacity. Coachella increased in size from 99,000 per weekend in 2015 and 2016 to 125,000-capacity in 2017, for a total of 250,000 tickets sold over the two weekends – an increase of 26.26 percent. General admission tickets were once again priced at $399 and VIP passes were priced at $899. The festival has consistently sold out since 2010.  
Coachella’s gross towers above the runner-up on Pollstar’s Year End Worldwide Festival Grosses chart, San Francisco’s Outside Lands Music & Arts Festival at $27,940,275. Even if Coachella just took place over one weekend, it would still easily be at No. 1 with a gross of $57,296,500. 
That being said, Outside Lands’ gross is still quite impressive when you look at the numbers that directly follow it on the chart: Brazil’s Sao Paulo Trip at $17,765,074; Los Angeles’ Classic West at $17,057,842; and Las Vegas’ Life Is Beautiful Festival at $16,871,240.
Coachella returns to the Empire Polo Club in Indio, Calif., April 13-15 and April 20-22, headlined by Beyoncé, Eminem and The Weeknd
Since the lineup was announced on Tuesday, music critics and fans have been busy offering their thoughts on the lack of a rock headliner, the dominance of hip-hop/rap/R&B acts, the inclusion of (a few) more female artists and Latin musicians, the absence of major surprises and/or reunions, and whether The Weeknd and/or Eminem deserve top billing based on their most recent albums. And really, it’s all just opinion – and heavily influenced by whether you’re strictly a rock fan or more into so-called urban genres.

As with the heavy presence of EDM acts the past few years, it seems apparent that Coachella is aiming to book acts that are popular with the mainstream public, rather than just focusing on rock acts. And with that assumed philosophy in mind, the lineup makes sense – just turn on your radio or look at which artists are on top of the streaming charts. And besides, didn’t you read Pollstar’s recent cover feature, “The Urban Live Explosion: From Closed Doors to Open Arms”?

Coachella is nominated for Pollstar’s Music Festival of the Year, along with Austin City Limits Music Festival, Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival, Kaaboo Del Mar, Lollapalooza and Stagecoach: California’s Country Music Festival. International Music Festival of the Year nominees include the U.K.’s Barclaycard British Summer Time; Australia’s Bryon Bay Bluesfest, the U.K.’s C2C: Country to Country; the U.K.’s Glastonbury; Lollapalooza Brazil and Spain’s Primavera Sound
The 1999 debut Coachella was named Pollstar‘s Music Festival of the Year and it has racked up 11 more wins at the Pollstar Awards since then. Last year it was beat out by Desert Trip in the Major Music Festival of the Year category. Life Is Beautiful was named Music Festival of the Year and Glastonbury won International Music Festival of the Year. 

The 29th Annual Pollstar Awards takes place Feb. 8 at the Wiltern Theatre in L.A. following the Feb. 6-8 Pollstar Live! conference at the Intercontinental Los Angeles Downtown.