Coachella Organizer Sparks Controversy

It’s the middle of April and the weather is becoming warmer. This means it is time for one thing and one thing only: Coachella. Coachella is a festival that hosts a number of musical acts through two weekends on multiple stages on their campground in Indio, California. This year there was a new component added to the festival. On social media apps like Instagram and Twitter, people who weren’t there could watch a live feed. This new feature upped Coachella’s social media presence and in turn boosted their popularity, since celebrities posted videos along with it.

Every year Coachella has different musicians as the headliners of the whole entire festival, and this year they were Childish Gambino, Tame Impala, and Ariana Grande. These headliners had a lot to live up to after Beyoncé headlined last year. Coachella is a big celebration of music and has continued to attract many celebrities and others to attend and perform, but it has a dark side. Is Coachella the ethical and fun experience it is made out to be?

This year, Coachella had a slew of big names perform and attend its annual festival. Ariana Grande delivered with both her performances, including a duet with NSYNC. Another standout from the weekend was Billie Eilish, who made her debut at the festival this year.

Another noteworthy moment came from Jaden Smith, who had a killer performance. He had special guests like his sister Willow Smith perform along side him. For the second weekend, his dad, Will Smith, came up on stage during some of Jaden’s songs, such as “Icon.” The performers left those who attended in amazement. Despite all the good things that occurred this year at Coachella, the festival has some unfavorable events surrounding it.

Issues with Coachella stemmed from its owner, Philip Anschutz, who owns the parent company Anshutz Entertainment Group (AEG). According to out.com, Anschutz has made several donations to anti-LGBTQ+ organizations and politicians. This all came to light in 2017, but not a lot of musicians have spoken out about it, despite some of them being self proclaimed activists such as Grande and Beyoncé.

AEG doesn’t just own Coachella. It also owns many venues around the world, so if an artist were to denounce Coachella, the company could hinder their ability to perform because they wouldn’t be asked back to Coachella-like festivals or any of the venues that AEG owns, possibly killing their career.

The only other company that owns the venues that artists can perform at is Live Nation, but AEG is still growing, and owns many small venues as well.

While there are movements like “Nochella,” multitudes of artists and celebrities still attend Coachella, whether it be because they try to distance Coachella from its owner, or because they simply can’t do anything about it without going down in flames. Nevertheless, there are still some benefits that Coachella presents. Billie Eilish is a Justin Bieber fan and at Coachella, they finally met after one of her sets.

There was also something historic happening at Coachella this year. Blackpink performed at the festival as the first Korean pop group ever at Coachella. Their set included rock and roll elements, as well as engaging the crowd through props.

Coachella includes so many artists for each weekend, so while people question whether or not should to go, Coachella continues its tradition. Each year brings a new lineup, and if Coachella wants to keep functioning at the same rate they have always gone at, then they need to allow artists to question it without the fear of never performing at any of their venues. Just because nothing has changed in regards to the media coverage of the owners controversial actions doesn’t mean nothing will occur.

Hopefully in years to come more artists will take a stand against Anshutz. In the meantime, Coachella can celebrate music and its creators, while the rest of the world can wonder what can be done to stop Anschutz and bigotry in general.

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