How Coachella Became the Ultimate Music Festival Destination

While the Coachella Festival has become the ultimate music festival destination that rivals the spotlight of any music event on the planet, its humble beginnings actually date back to 1993 when Pearl Jam was famously taking a stand against Ticketmaster. On that November day, the grunge legends attracted 25,000 fans to the Empire Polo Club in Indio, Ca, and set the stage for the event’s promoter Goldenvoice to recognize the viability of the location.

As Goldenvoice struggled to secure major acts in subsequent years, often losing out to agencies with deeper pockets, Paul Tollett opted to shift strategies and organize a festival of his own with Goldenvoice co-president, Rick Van Santen. The initial event took place in the summer of 1999, just two months after the massively controversial Woodstock ’99, an event that help Tollett and his team decide to book acts that were more “artists than radio acts” as well as offering attendees free parking and access to water fountains.  Although the event received rave reviews, it saw significant financial losses that forced organizers to delay the second edition until 2001.


It was during the early 2000s and amidst the tragic death of co-founder Van Santen, that Tollett and Coachella were able to gain financial support from AEG and the festival was being recognized for its elite status and event. As organizers continued to bring in world-class talents such as the Beastie Boys, Radiohead, and Nine Inch Nails, the event continued to meet demand while continuing to receive rave reviews.  The city of Indio recognized the positive impact the event had on the city and extended the event’s contract well into the future.


The curation of the acts on stage, as well as the art installations and welcoming nature of the event and the grounds, has helped draw a wide variety of individuals to the California desert every April. Pop star Katy Perry summed it up when she stated, “The lineup always introduces the best of the year for the rest of the year.”  With the eyes of the world glued to the Coachella Festival, it has become more than just a music event, but a place for celebrities and influences to be seen rubbing shoulders and engaging in the latest trends. With an expanded live stream broadcast for the 2023 event, the entire entertainment world will surely be watching this year’s gathering in Indio, CA.


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