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Frank Ocean Dropping Out of Coachella Cost the Festival Millions

Expenses like an ice pad and additional talent costs rack up, but the seven-figure loss is unlikely to impact the event's overall profitability.

Frank Ocean’s decision to cancel his second of two performances at Coachella this weekend will likely cost the festival several million dollars, sources tell Billboard — losses that the festival will try to offset, in part, with finding new uses for the giant ice pad the company created for Ocean’s long-awaited performance.

A source close to the situation tells Billboard that festival promoter Goldenvoice is trying to make the best out of the millions of dollars spent on building a giant ice pad that was supposed to accommodate over 100 skaters during Ocean’s set last Sunday night but was scrapped at the last minute after the artist suffered an ankle injury. The ice pad cannot be used as a public ice rink, the source says, but the Goldenvoice team is working out how to incorporate it into another yet-to-be determined performance.


Ocean was to be paid $4 million for each of his two Coachella performances, for a total of $8 million, sources say. Since Ocean is not performing for the second weekend, he will only be paid for the first weekend’s performance. Goldenvoice, however, will still need to pay Blink-182 that same $4 million rate for their replacement one-hour headlining set on Sunday, sources say, and will also need to pay the newly announced Skrillex, Four Tet and Fred again.. combo for their closing set.

Typically, festival promoters pay an artist a performance rate and also cover basic production needs such as staging, sound, lighting and video boards. The artists will cover all additional production elements from their fee that are unique to their performance such as musicians, dancers, performers and other major visual elements.

In Ocean’s case, however, the most expensive part of his production — the custom ice pad — was built by Goldenvoice and came with significant energy costs. So, while Goldenvoice had planned to recoup that cost from his performance fees, sources say the production costs Ocean racked up exceed the $4 million he earned for the first weekend. That means Ocean failed to turn a profit from his Coachella appearance and that the festival will have to eat the remaining loss — for which it is highly unlikely to demand repayment.

Ocean also racked up about $45,000 in curfew fines during his set, which played 25 minutes past the mandatory midnight curfew imposed by Indio, California, city officials. However, a source close to Ocean says those fines are Goldenvoice’s fault, claiming Ocean’s set started an hour late because festival staff took an additional 50 minutes to change over the stage from Bjork’s set to Ocean’s set.

Despite the curfew fines — which added up to $133,000 over the weekend, according to city officials — and the millions of dollars spent on an unused ice sheet and extra talent costs, Goldenvoice is still likely to make a profit from the festival. In an average year, Coachella grosses over $115 million in ticket sales across both weekends and makes tens of millions more in food, beverage and hospitality.

Coachella’s second weekend kicks off Friday (April 21) in Indio.