The New Yorker über das Coachella Festival

In einer der letzten Ausgaben des sehr empfehlenswerten US-Magazins The New Yorker war ein längerer Bericht über das Coachella Festival, seine Herkunft und Festivalbooking in 2017. Einige der interessantesten Einblicke darin

* Für die „Oldchella“-Ausgabe mit Rolling Stones, The Who, Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, Neil Young und Roger Waters bekamen die Haupt-Acts „Artist fees of between three and five million dollars. In addition, each act got its own tented friends-and-family acre for the entire two weeks. The Stones’ area included a forty-yard-long air-conditioned running track on which Jagger could sprint back and forth to warm up.“

* Die VIP-Sitze, die 1.599 $ kosten, sind schwarz, damit den Künstlern nicht auffällt, wenn die VIPs sich die Shows nicht ansehen: „He pointed to the cushioned V.I.P. seats in front, which cost $1,599 for the three nights of the festival and were black, so that the artists couldn’t tell from the stage, once it got dark, if they were empty. “Performers hate looking at empty seats,” he noted.“

* Für die reguläre „Coachella“-Ausgabe erhalten die Hauptkünstler zwischen 3 und 4 Millionen für einen Auftritt, die unbekannteren Bands weniger als 10.000$: „On the poster were the headliners for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday: Radiohead, Beyoncé, and Kendrick Lamar, respectively, each of whom would receive between three and four million dollars for playing. Below them were seven lines of artist and band names. The first line noted the reunions (New Order), the critical darlings (Bon Iver, Father John Misty), and the biggest E.D.M. (electronic dance music) d.j.s; the font for the second, third, and fourth lines became progressively smaller, allowing more artists to be listed. The lowest three lines were all the same size. Some of those acts make less than ten thousand dollars.“

* Coachellas erste Ausgabe hat enorme Verluste eingefahren und seinen Veranstalter Goldenvoice an den Rand des Bankrotts gebracht. Erst im fünften Jahr war Coachella profitabel.

* Ezra Furman tritt selbst für Coachella nicht an einem Samstag auf, weil „The cross-dressing indie rocker Ezra Furman, who is an observant Jew, needed to be in a synagogue by sundown on Friday, and Saturday was obviously out.“

* Der Coachella-Veranstalter Tollett stammt aus der Punk-Szene: „Goldenvoice promoted hardcore punk shows that established promoters wouldn’t touch because the fans were sometimes violent. Their iconic posters featured the same D.I.Y.-style Chinese transfer letters that are now used in the Goldenvoice and Coachella logos; the imagery bounced from goth to punk to mod, depending on the band—Jane’s Addiction, Black Flag, Social Distortion, Dead Kennedys, Bad Religion.
“I was Gary’s right hand from ’86 to ’91,” Tollett said. “To this day, I can kind of remember everything he said. Not specific words—feelings.” Such as: “You put on a punk-rock show and someone busts out a window? Don’t argue with the building owner. If it’s seven hundred dollars, don’t pay him three hundred. Otherwise, every time you do a show it’s going to be there. And pay bands well. Punk bands didn’t sell records. They needed money.”

* Coachella gibt die Getränke nicht aus der Hand und vermeidet Sponsoring in Bühnennähe: „“Usually, if you’re starting a festival you go to a food-and-beverage company and say, ‘Give me half a million in advance, and you can run the concessions.’ You go to the ticket people, same. So there’s a way to cut your losses up front. But you have to control it. Because, if the concession guy is in control, water will go from two bucks to five bucks when you’re not looking.” Also, “I wouldn’t let sponsors’ logos on the stages. I feel like when the band is playing it should be you and the band, and it’s a sacred moment.” (Plenty of profane branding goes on offstage, however.)“

* Die Platzierung auf dem Coachella-Poster (welche Reihe, welche Schriftgröße) ist Bestandteil der Verhandlungen und elementar für die zukünftigen Einnahmen der Künstler. EDM-DJs werden mehr nach „social reach“ beurteilt als nach Plattenverkäufen: „For artists, placement on the poster translates directly into booking fees. “Agents will say, ‘They’re a second-line band at Coachella!’ ” Tollett related. Rarely has typography been so closely monetized. For E.D.M. d.j.s, in particular, placement on the poster can determine their future asking price, not only in the United States but internationally. “We have so many arguments over font sizes,” he went on. “I literally have gone to the mat over one point size.” “Today is the day I’m telling all the agents what line their band is going to be on,” Tollett explained. “Sounds like a small thing in the great scheme of life. But, as it relates to these bands, it’s huge.” He added, “We booked it, and it’s going to be great.” He sounded as if he were trying to convince himself.
A prototype of the poster was on the table. He pointed to the second line, Saturday, where two popular E.D.M. d.j.s, DJ Snake and Martin Garrix, and the hip-hop m.c. SchoolBoy Q, were all together, along with the alternative-rock star Bon Iver and the Atlanta rappers Gucci Mane and Future. “I have a pileup of d.j.s here,” Tollett said. “The problem is that every one of them wants there.” He tapped the left side of the line, where Bon Iver held pride of place. “In the old days, you could look at SoundScan or Pollstar. Who sells more records? Who sells more tickets? But d.j.s don’t do concerts. And these hip-hop guys—some of them play only raves and large dance-club events,” so-called “soft ticket” shows in which the artist is just one part of the package. Instead of hard numbers, the d.j.s use social-media-based metrics to measure their popularity: Facebook friends, Twitter followers, YouTube views.
“The third line is the hardest,” Tollett went on, adjusting his Kings cap. “With someone like Justice or New Order, you know they’re solid.” The French techno group and the British New Wave band were two of the occupants of Sunday’s second line. “Marshmello?”—a third-line masked E.D.M. d.j. whose identity is concealed beneath a buckethead with a blitzed-looking emoji for a face. “Could be a line two, because he has crazy statistics,” Tollett said as he drummed on the poster with a pencil eraser.“

* Eine beispielhafte Verhandlung geht so: „One of the agents, Joel Zimmerman, of W.M.E., was so intent on getting favorable placement for his client, Martin Garrix, a twenty-year-old Dutch E.D.M. d.j., that he was driving over from his Beverly Hills office. Tollett’s assistant, Morgan Donly, read aloud an e-mail that Zimmerman had sent en route: “ ‘Sources online show that Garrix maintains his Calvin levels and is dropping more music this month.’ ” – ‘Calvin levels!’ ” Tollett hadn’t heard the superstar E.D.M. d.j. Calvin Harris used as a superlative before.
Donly relayed other metrics: “ ‘Regardless, his socials are four times bigger and he is in the top one per cent of connected artists to his fan base.’ ” Soon Zimmerman arrived. “All the artists are on Insta,” he said, a bit breathlessly, taking a chair next to Tollett. “It’s the platform. Before that, it was Twitter, and before that it was Facebook. Martin has ten million, and the other guy”—the wily agent didn’t want to use Snake’s name—“has three million. And Martin has seventy-eighty-per-cent engagement. To me, that’s a great measuring stick.”

(Quelle: The New Yorker: „The Mastermind Behind Coachella“ von Michael Spies. Abonnieren kann man den New Yorker hier)

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