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Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival

The Evolution of a Festival

Get out your sunglasses, charge the iPod and fill up the hybrid tank! The 2007 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival is fast approaching and for the first time ever in the nine-year history of the festival, an additional third day of phenomenal acts has been added. Something has to be said about a festival expanding its schedule to include a third day and still being able to sell out.

Have nine years passed that quickly? Back at the turn of the century most summer festival promoters had little reason not to second guess the feasibility of such a large showcase of talent -- the audiences were simply not buying the tickets to fill the fields. These days everyone is flocking to the stage, but what has changed?

With P2P software and community websites virtually everyone and anyone is only an upload away from getting their fifteen minutes of fame. It has become easier to self promote and distribute music on your own at almost no cost. This also means that the same tools are available for those who have the money to spend, indie labels and the big four alike. Many labels have adapted their old strategies to work with these new forms of media. In some cases this has left them open to be taken advantage of as a result of the system's inherent "flaws", which of course include widespread illegal downloading.

Placebo, one of the forty-plus acts performing on the third day, has experienced first hand what it’s like to have a whole album (Meds) illegally available on the internet months before its official release. Placebo front man Brian Molko explains his initial reaction as, "…extreme anger. You spend six months of blood, sweat and tears and some fucking prick puts it on the internet so he can brag to his buddies. I was fuming. But then you get over it and you just get on with shit."

On the other hand, the re-emergence of the successful festival format indicates a larger trend in the desire of seeing bands perform live. Molko elaborates, "Bands sell less records and people don't buy music, they steal music. The only thing that you can't really download is a live performance. Even though a lot of music is getting stolen, the sort of domino effect of that is that more bands have to spend more time on the road. . ."

The tour revival is great for musicians in many ways. The potential to see increased revenue from touring has the real potential of balancing out the losses in these other areas. This is not an entirely new concept, touring used to be one of the main revenue sources for bands. The Grateful Dead, for example, were an incredibly successful touring band while their major record release sales were nominal.

What does all of this have to do with Coachella? This year’s lineup exemplifies the wide range of talented live musicians -- those who are relatively new to the scene such as Jose Gonzalez and Lily Allen along side major players like Rage Against The Machine and Björk. This year also includes an amazing spread of iconic performers including Sonic Youth, Faithless, Manu Chao, Happy Mondays, Willie Nelson, The Roots, Placebo, The Lemonheads and much, much more. If you're headed out to Indio this year keep your ears and eyes open as you travel between sets, you might just catch the next Ian Curtis.

The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival
Fri. Apr 27th - Sun Apr 29th
Indio, CA

See the full lineup: