2022 Impact 50: Paul Tollett

President & CEO


The mastermind behind Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival at the Empire Polo Club in Indio, Calif., Tollett had to scramble after the pre-eminent music fest was brought down by Covid in both 2020 and 2021. This year’s edition had its own issues, with Kanye West pulling out two weeks before its April start. Tollett was forced to scramble, adding The Weeknd as a special guest alongside headliners Swedish House Mafia.

The original 2020 lineup of Rage Against the Machine, Frank Ocean (who will be one of the headliners for next year’s iteration) and Travis Scott eventually mutated into replacement headliners Harry Styles and Billie Eilish.

“This one was harder than usual,” Tollett admitted to the Los Angeles Times following two years of waiting and refunds. Nevertheless, Coachella drew a total of 750,000 fans over the six nights and two weekends at anywhere from $449 general admission to VIP ducats at $1,119. The Swedish House Mafia/The Weeknd pairing came about when their shared manager, Wassim “Sal” Slaiby, who also has Doja Cat in his stable, suggested the two acts appear together after working in the studio. This year’s fest was marked by a number of special guests, with Harry Styles joined on consecutive weekends by Shania Twain and Lizzo and a surprise, unannounced Friday afternoon appearance by Arcade Fire at the Mojave tent. Other highlights included Kendrick Lamar joining Baby Keem on stage, while Justin Bieber was a surprise guest during Daniel Caesar’s set, in which they showed off their collaboration, “Peaches.”

“When all those headliners changed, it was hard, I won’t lie,” Tollett says. “But it’s also part of what you do. Don’t get upset … Just make a change, you know?”

The Stagecoach Country Music Festival, which followed the weekend after the second Coachella, April 29-May 1, featuring headliners Thomas Rhett, Carrie Underwood and Luke Combs along with Smokey Robinson, Tanya Tucker, Maren Morris and Brothers Osborne, among many others, also drew almost 250,000 fans over its three-night stand. “The future’s definitely open-ended,” Tollett says.