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Coachella: Why the Good Will Always Outweigh the Bad

By Mckayla White on June 3, 2024

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Four people laugh as they take in the sights and sounds of Coachella.

We all know and love Coachella (obviously); well, at least, most of us do.

Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival is a huge music festival in Indio, California, and probably the most well-known festival on social media and to the general public. Originating in 1999, Coachella is known for its extravagant concerts, fun parties, good vibes, unique outfits, and, of course, the Instagram photo opportunities. But Coachella isn’t just a music festival—it’s a cultural phenomenon that sets the tone for festival season worldwide.

But what Coachella is not known for is, unfortunately, a little more morbid. Owner Phillip Anschutz has faced much backlash for supporting conservative initiatives and organizations, but Coachella still seems to thrive despite this.

Coachella Audience and Values

Before diving into the controversy, we must establish Coachella’s audience and values. Like most music festivals, the majority of attendees are music lovers in their 20s, with a specific focus on Gen Z and younger Millennials. Coachella isn’t just about mainstream music—it’s a melting pot of artistry. From fun music to art installations, this eclectic mix reflects the diverse interests of Coachella attendees, showcasing their openness to new experiences and willingness to explore.

Of course, we must consider the stereotypical festival attendees: the partiers. We have all seen the depictions of drugs at festivals within pop culture and on social media. Let’s face it: drugs are a big part of festival culture, but Coachella has a strict no drugs or drug paraphernalia on the festival grounds policy, even going as far as having people arrested. With that being said, I think we all know that people do drugs at festivals, and Coachella is no exception. 

Coachella calls to those who may not follow the norms and give people a place to express themselves. Festivals encourage you to be the most eccentric version of yourself, and because of this, inclusivity is important. Coachella’s Every One Program promotes inclusivity and safety in the festival and for its attendees. Its everyone branding specifically notes that everyone deserves to feel safe, which is ironic since the owner, Phillip Anschutz, makes many feel unsafe. 

The Controversy

American businessman, billionaire, conservative, Christian, and the man who owns L.A. are all things that Phillip Anschutz is frequently named. Considering how rich Anschutz is, none of these titles are surprising, but what is surprising is that he is also the owner of Coachella. This festival is quite literally the opposite of Anschutz. 

Anschutz and Coachella have done a great job hiding their link, as Anschutz owns Coachella but only through multiple companies. Coachella is a part of Goldenvoice, which is owned by AEG Presents and Anschutz Entertainment Group, both of which were founded by Philip Anschutz. The parent company of both companies is the Anschutz Corporation, which is owned by none other than Philip Anschutz. Simply put, it all leads back to Anschutz, and he benefits greatly. It may be a coincidence that the ownership of Coachella seems complicated, or it could be because they wanted separation between Anschutz and Coachella. Still, unfortunately, we will likely never have an answer to that.

Anschutz is a well-known and influential conservative who unsurprisingly donates his fortune to conservative causes, such as anti-LGBTQIA+, like the National Christian Foundation, which has been called an extremist group, and anti-abortion groups, as well as conservative think tanks, such as the American Enterprise Institue, the Federalist Society, and the Heritage Foundation. In addition to this, Anschutz has donated over 1 million dollars to republican politicians. It is important to note that Anschutz has done some good by donating 1 million dollars to the Elton John AIDS Foundation and over 100 million dollars to the University of Colorado School of Medicine, which is now titled the Anschutz Medical Campus. With that being said, many of these donations are made through the Anschutz’s foundation, which gives Anschutz something to hide behind when he faces backlash.

When Anschutz’s donations became public knowledge, #BoycottCoachella started trending and gaining traction. Anschutz decided to release a statement, likely because he was strongly urged to by his PR reps, claiming that any reports saying he is homophobic are garbage and that he and his foundation decide where to donate to based on job performance. Furthering that he does not support discrimination and claimed to have stopped financially supporting organizations that funded anti-LGBTQIA+ initiatives as he was unaware of their intent. In addition to this, Anschutz also claims to believe in a woman’s right to choose and does not support the reversal of Roe.

We all know men like this are common and unsurprising, so why is Philip Anschutz different? Well, his views and actions contrast with those of Coachella goers and are really what Coachella is all about. 

Marketing Opportunites

Coachella is wildly successful and sells out almost every year. The grounds have a capacity of 125,000, and since Coachella is two weekends, they can sell upwards of 250,000 tickets. The most affordable (I use that term lightly) Coachella ticket is $499 plus fees, while the most expensive is $1269 plus fees. A little quick math based on the lowest ticket price will tell you that Coachella is making over 124 million. On top of that, there are many ticket add-ons and camping options, plus Coachella has its own merch line and, of course, makes money from vendors and by selling ad space. 

Coachella is like a bat sign to brands, and one of the brands that answered was Poosh, a wellness brand created by Kourtney Kardashian. Poosh hosted their second annual Camp Poosh on Coachella weekend. They rented a beautiful house, filled it with goodies for the attendees, and invited influencers like Alexa Losey and Madeleine Rose to experience a camp-like weekend vacation focused on wellness during a weekend of partying. Additionally, more influencers and celebrities were invited to some planned activities. Not only did Poosh use Coachella as a way to bring awareness to their brand, but they also strengthened their brand identity by staying true to their wellness image, which, in turn, made them stand out and seem genuine.

Keeping with the influencer and KarJenner family theme, Coachella can also be used to promote influencers and celebrities, just like it did with Kylie Jenner. Jenner was famous before attending Coachella, but she gained popularity by being photographed at the festival and bringing Coachella to her audience, who may not have known about it before. In her true King Kylie era, all of her Coachella content went viral, was copied, and gained her many sponsorship opportunities. 

Coachella isn’t just a weekend of art and parties—it’s a strategic marketing playground where brands, influencers, and celebrities can leverage their presence to expand their reach, forge partnerships, and ultimately gain new customers. 

The Good Will Always Outweigh the Bad

Living in a capitalist society means that the good, A.K.A. the money, will always outweigh the bad.

It is clear that marketing opportunities cloud judgment and provide an excuse. If everyone is going to Coachella or using it to market themselves and their brand, are you really at fault? Simply put, yes, because your money is your vote, but chances are Coachella is going to be around for a long time, and a couple of people or brands boycotting Coachella will do nothing. Take Starbucks for example; they are currently being boycotted for supporting Isreal, and while the boycott has impacted sales and their reputation, there are still people who support Starbucks daily for various reasons, whether that be because they agree, don’t care, or find it difficult to change their routine. Humans will always choose convenience; supporting a popular brand is convenient rather than going against the grain. 

This has been seen time and time again and will unfortunately never change unless a big player replaces Coachella or shames it on a large enough scale to ruin the brand. Unfortunately, our world revolves around money, which will always take priority; thus, the good outweighs the bad.

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