At the end of February, Live Nation president/CEO Michael Rapino told investors on a conference call that he expected the coronavirus to affect less than 1% of their overall business. A week later, Miami’s Ultra Music Festival was called off; two days after that, Austin’s South by Southwest was canceled. That same day, March 6, Rapino and AEG COO Jay Marciano, along with heads of the top four talent agencies, formed a private task force. Now, executives at AEG credit that alliance with helping Coachella avoid a cancellation, too.
Within days of AEG learning that public health officials from Riverside County in California — which includes Indio, Coachella’s event grounds — would not permit the festival to take place as planned starting on April 10, Marciano quickly received approval to move it to October. It wasn’t hard, sources say, to get at least some scheduled performers and their agents to commit to the new dates because the artists wouldn’t get paid if they didn’t perform — and the agents wouldn’t get their commissions. (Plus, AEG did promote the one-off Desert Trip in October 2016, so the regulatory framework for a fall Coachella was already in place to some degree.) By March 10, Goldenvoice had officially announced that both weekends of Coachella, as well as its country music festival Stagecoach, would still happen in 2020 — only six months later than planned. More recently, Bonnaroo announced its four-day festival, which this year features headliners Tool, Lizzo and Tame Impala, will take place in September. And while Chicago’s Lollapalooza typically happens in early August, it recently delayed announcing its lineup, saying in a statement that the festival will take place “as soon as it’s safe for us all to be together.”