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For all its hippie and artistic branding, Coachella is being sued from what appears to be a case of straight up capitalist greed. Oregon music festival Soul’d Out is suing the Indio, California-based festival and its organizers, Golden Voice and AEG Presents, over Coachella’s radius clause, arguing that it violates anti-trust statutes.
To break down that legal jargon into human speak, basically Coachella has a clause that restricts where its performers can play in five states—California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington and Arizona—for months before and after the festival. As per an alleged copy of the clause, artists are restricted from performing in venues in the aforementioned states from December of the preceding year until May. (P.S. Coachella runs for two consecutive weekends in April. This year it’s April 13-15 and 20-22).
If you’re scratching your head right now and thinking WTF, don’t worry I had the same reaction. As Billboard reports, Soul’d Out's lawsuit claims that this clause produces “an illegal monopoly in the market for live music festival performances.” Allegedly, SZA, Daniel Caesar, New Orleans-based band Tank, and The Bangas either passed on or dropped out of Soul’d Out because of Coachella’s clause.
Lawyers for Soul’d Out are trying to get the clause tossed, arguing that it “unreasonably restrict[s] price and cost of competition among live concert venues” and “limit[s] entry or expansion of competitors.” Furthermore, they point out that Coachella doesn’t exactly depend on the clause to boost attendance, since tickets for the festival already sell out months in advance and in a matter of hours. And if I may add, it’s not exactly like the tickets are cheap either.