Music industry braces for possible Coachella cancellation

The music industry is fretting that Coachella will become the next coronavirus casualty.

Local residents in Riverside County, Calif. — an enclave east of Los Angeles where the trendy music festival is slated for next month — are circulating a petition to cancel the chic shindig, citing fears that it could bring the epidemic with it.

“The low desert’s population is densely seniors, which are at significantly higher risk of developing complications from covid19,” Annette Meza of nearby Fontana commented on the petition, which more than doubled to 12,000 signatures over the weekend.

“This is a HUUGE gathering by people who can’t even keep herpes to themselves!!!” wrote Lyssa Perez of neighboring Palm Desert.

Meanwhile, a petition not to cancel Coachella — which is scheduled for the weekends of April 10 and April 17 — has garnered some 1,300 signatures.

“The valley needs the revenue so don’t panic,“ wrote Evelyn Eccard of Redondo Beach, Calif.

“I’m at the age where I can get the coronas and sleep it off the next week,” added Avery Pyatt of Pittsburgh.

According to the Coachella Valley Economic Partnership, Coachella and its subsidiary Stagecoach festival in 2017 brought in $400 million to Coachella Valley and $700 million to the metro area.

Over the weekend, however, Riverside County got its first coronavirus case, as a patient was confirmed at Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage, about 25 miles from the festival site.

Map of coronavirus in US

The Indio, Calif.-based event — whose lineup this year includes Frank Ocean, Lana Del Ray, Travis Scott and Rage Against the Machine — was already on shaky ground after news hit Friday that South by Southwest, the Austin, Texas-based music and tech festival, was canceled.

Music bigwigs are wringing their hands because Coachella kicks off a slew of music festivals through the summer, including New Orleans Jazz Fest, CMA Music Festival, Bonnaroo Music Festival, Lollapalooza and Burning Man.

“Everybody’s watching Coachella,” said one music exec. “If Coachella goes down, it’s going to be a domino effect.”

A decline in attendance at live events could meaningfully harm the financial results of music promoters like Live Nation and AEG, which runs Coachella, he added.

But residents of the sleepy Coachella Valley are more concerned over the fate of their aging community.

Last year, roughly 500,000 festival-goers descended on Indio, which has a population of 91,000, of whom over 16,000 are senior citizens.

Riverside County’s public health officer Cameron Kaiser said Sunday that an emergency decision to cancel Coachella would be a “drastic move.”

“I would not take that action lightly,” he said. “We’d rather work with them, rather than impose that on them.”

Nevertheless, if there is a cancellation, Kaiser said officials will give “as much lead time as possible to enable these vital components of our economy to continue to take place in later years, while keeping their attendees and all residents of Riverside County safe.”

Reps for Coachella and GoldenVoice, the AEG subsidiary that produces the event, did not return requests seeking comment.

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