Paul Tollett, President and CEO, Goldenvoice
– Paul Tollett
– Paul Tollett
Over the past 20 years, Paul Tollett’s brainchild, Coachella, has hosted music’s biggest names, spawned some of its biggest moments and continues to serve as a bellwether for the entire live industry, even during the COVID-19 pandemic.
With South By Southwest and Ultra Music Festival called off in early March, Coachella, which often serves as a barometer of popular music as a whole as well as unofficial official kickoff of the North American music festival season, made the early call to postpone – along with its sister event Stagecoach – to October, which created a ripple effect in the industry as Live Nation, AEG and many others canceled events while confronted with an unprecedented situation.
Tollett still books Coachella, plays a role in programming other events and serves as the Southern California promoter for AEG Presents, which this year had its usual star-studded yet varied, tastemaking lineup topped by the reunited Rage Against The Machine, superstar Travis Scott and the gifted Frank Ocean and filled with dozens of heavy hitters from Thom Yorke to Danny Elfman to Lana Del Rey to Code Orange to Doja Cat to 88 Rising’s Double Happiness showcase of Asian rap.
With so many tour plans and artists involved in the mega-event, which has long been Pollstar’s highest-grossing annual event and now takes up two weekends as AEG-owned Goldenvoice’s flagship event, it’s hard to find someone more impactful, even this year, than Tollett.
Although this year’s Indio events – Coachella and Stagecoach – both had to be moved into 2021, still with uncertainty over the lineup and whether it would take place in spring or fall, Coachella was still celebrated, with the YouTube Originals Documentary “20 Years In The Desert” released as a type of Couch-ella for fans eager to take in the Southern California sun. But the film also celebrates Tollett’s beginnings, chopping up grainy footage from the Los Angeles club shows Goldenvoice produced in the ‘80s with Jane’s Addiction, N.W.A. and many many others.
Even if many of the festival’s patrons today might not remember the promoter’s pre-Coachella days – or might have even been unborn at the time – that rebel spirit still pulses through its core.
That spirit has taken form also in the formation of a new division, with Goldenvoice and Tollett again ahead of the curve.
“We commit to continue to bring awareness of the violence against Black bodies in America,” reads the all-caps, in-your-face announcement of GV Black, “a team to help us create initiatives to highlight the black experience at our organization, and expand representation of the Black community at Coachella.”
“We understand that this work extends beyond the current circumstances, and are committed to continual and consistent support of the Black community. We are only at the beginning, and we acknowledge that we must do better and hold ourselves accountable. We are ready for our continued learning, community building, and our un-doing and doing – all with support.”