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Has Coachella Lost its Sparkle? A Deep Dive into Coachella’s Downfall 

Apr 22, 2024

Influencer News

Has Coachella Lost its Sparkle? A Deep Dive into Coachella’s Downfall 

Coachella’s downfall. How did we get here?

Ask anyone under the age of thirty-five in 2016 what’s the one event they would give anything to attend and the answer would be Coachella. 

Coachella has long been the music festival. Filled with gorgeous outfits, celebrity sightings, and the hottest musical acts of the time, Coachella drew thousands of dedicated fans to its dusty doors year over year. 

Those of us who couldn’t attend sat at home, our faces pressed to our screens, watching hours worth of YouTube vlogs and scrolling through Emma Chamberlain’s millions of outfits. 

Yet, in recent years, Coachella has lost its sparkle. The once famous festival has been struggling to sell tickets, with 2024 being the first year in its 25 history that it didn’t sell out. 

Are we witnessing Coachella’s downfall? Has it lost its appeal with new audiences? And, what does this mean for the brands that depend on it for marketing? 

Read on to find out. 

COACHELLA’S DOWNFALL: THE HISTORY OF COACHELLA

Before Coachella’s downfall, it began almost by accident. 

In the late 1990’s, Ticketmaster held the monopoly on the sale and distribution of tickets in the United States, blocking 90% of the country’s tour circuit. After a dispute with the company, popular alt-rock band Pearl Jam swore they would leave out any venues in their North American tour that used Ticketmaster. 

Up and coming production company Goldenvoice saw this major opportunity, and organised for Pearl Jam to instead perform out in the desert for their disappointed fans; in a little place called Coachella Valley. The concert was such a success, that the company decided to dive headfirst into a festival format in the same location the next year. 

@viraltvnetwork

Coachella 2024 fails people are mad at it and second weekend tickets are still not sold out with overpriced food, long showers lines #coachella #coachella2024 #coachellaoutfit #coachellalineup #lanadelrey #shakira #dojacat #taylorthecreator #fyp

♬ Mysterious and sad BGM(1120058) – S and N

This first Coachella, held in 1999, lost Goldenvoice $850,000. In 2009, the festival saw 200,000 people in just one weekend, and Goldenvoice built a highway to help serve festival goers better. By the mid 2010’s, Coachella was the event of the year, selling out both weekends in just hours. 

When celebrities first started being spotted at Coachella, it was still solidly a music festival. Magazines snapped pictures of Drew Barrymore and Cameron Diaz dancing along to The Chemical Brothers, looking as haggard as everyone else. 

Yet, as the festival grew more popular, so did its fashion scene. The younger wave of celebrities brought with them a heavy focus on dressing for the festival. From Kendall Jenner to Vanessa Hudson, it became the thing to be snapped wearing your hottest bohemian-esque gear at Coachella. 

By around 2016, it was impossible to make it through Coachella weekend without seeing hundreds of images of Paris Hilton or some other celebrity in a crochet dress and cowboy boots. 

And this is the way it stayed for many years. A place of music and fashion, celebrities and paparazzi pictures. That was, until the influencers showed up. 

COACHELLA’S DOWNFALL: THE INFLUENCER EFFECT 

The arrival of influencers in the late 2010’s to early 2020’s at Coachella reshaped the event entirely. Many would claim that this is what ultimately led to Coachella’s downfall

Vloggers and the social media boom brought the festival into our living rooms. Big names such as Emma Chamberlain dedicated hours worth of content to showing us their absolutely perfect Coachella weekend. From Coachella preparation videos weeks before the actual event, to daily vlogs, it became easier than ever for normal consumers to see what the festival was like. 

These videos portrayed Coachella as heaven on earth. Everyone was in the cutest outfits with stunning hairstyles, regular people rubbed shoulders with Kim Kardashian, and everyone rode the infamous ferris wheel seemingly all day. 

Slowly, influencers began to take over. Coachella became a fashion week in its own right, with influencers flocking to the desert for their annual “Influencer Olympics” gaining hundreds of thousands of views just by showing their followers they were there. 

@dannyrayes

Coachella 2024 is getting backlash

♬ original sound – Danny

Coachella quickly became not a music festival, but an influencer festival. Viewers tuned in not to see the latest Arctic Monkeys set, but to find out who Loren Grey hung out with and what she wore. Influencers flooded the festival and surrounding towns, spending hours each day getting ready only to stare blankly back at Damien Albarn as he desperately tried to get them to sing along to his set (this incident is what has spiked a new round of Coachella’s downfall converts). 

Recent reports have shown that the influencer takeover of Coachella has gone one step further. Supposedly, many of the influencers we see gracing our screens do not even attend the festival. They simply flow out to Coachella Valley, take millions of photos, and create the perfect facade for their millions of followers; without ever stepping foot inside the festival. 

Ultimately, Coachella has been completely influencer-fied. Social media has been flooded with disappointed fans, claiming that Coachella’s downfall is complete. Videos of crowds not singing along to acts, or simply standing around posing in V.I.P sections, have angered many users. For many, it is incredibly frustrating to watch influencers fail to enjoy a festival much of the world would do anything to attend. 

The impact of this is immense. Coachella’s ticket sales have been steadily plummeting as the number of influencers who attend increase. The popularity of TikTok has contributed to this, as users now have access to hundreds of videos filmed by attendees of the festival showing how influencers really behave once they are there. 

Our rose coloured glasses have been taken off. Many now view Coachella as a fad of the past. Once the music festival, for many music fans Coachella is now a solid no-go. They view it as a flooded arena of influencers, with little to no focus on music. 

A massive piece of Coachella’s downfall is the brands that market at it. 

COACHELLA’S DOWNFALL: THE MARKETING PIECE

We would be remiss to not mention brand marketing when discussing Coachella’s Downfall. 

Brands such as Revolve have completely rewritten how marketing at the festival occurs. These days, it’s all about proximity marketing; getting products right under the noses of influencers as much as possible. 

Revolve is an outstanding case in how to market at Coachella. The popular fashion brand changed the way brands participated in the festival by creating Revolve festival. This mini festival occurs at the same time as Coachella, but is an invite only, influencer event. 

@thenewsmovement

Why does no one care about Coachella anymore? @Clodagh Griffin takes a look at how their influencer marketing strategy might have caused their downfall… #coachella #coachella2024 #vanessahudgens #emmachamberlain #coachellafashion #influencer #influencermarketing #kendalljenner #haileybieber #festival #festivalfashion #artsandculture

♬ original sound – The News Movement

The success of this festival led to the birth of Coachella influencer trips. Brands such as Dove and Covergirl sponsor Coachella houses each year. They ship out influencers to the festival, deck them out head to toe in products, and then rack in huge amounts of authentic, product focused content. For years, this system of marketing worked. Consumers at home longed to be invited to Revolve festival and the Neon Carnival, to receive dozens of Nyx lip plumpers and Liquid IV products. 

Yet, these activations now leave a sour taste in consumers’ mouths. To many, these activations are simply another symptom of Coachella’s downfall. Images of Alix Earle being flown to the festival in a private jet to be showered in free products, no longer appeal to consumers.

Consumers are increasingly drawn into the content provided by micro-influencers at Coachella, who provide more of a transparent look at the festival. These influencers post vertical, short clips on TikTok, giving users at home an inside scoop. 

These big and bold, influencer driven marketing attempts at Coachella have fallen in popularity so much that the Revolve Festival was forced to downsize this year. This was largely in response to the backlash the festival received last year, as well as the negative publicity many brand trips – such as Trippin With Tarte – have fallen prey to. 

All in all, marketing at Coachella is both a symptom and a cause of its downfall.

COACHELLA’S DOWNFALL: WHERE NEXT 

Ultimately, Coachella’s downfall is in full swing. 

The festival has evolved entirely from its roots. Now not-so-affectionately known as the “Influencer Olympics”, it is going to take some heavy lifting to rebuild the festival in consumer’s eyes. 

Brands shouldn’t write off the festival completely, however. It is still a worthwhile venture, but one should be wise to tread carefully. Be sure to create a genuine experience for your consumers when engaging with Coachella. Steer clear of over the top, lavish influencer experiences. Instead, lean into the festival’s roots and listen to what your target audience desires. 

If we have said it once, we have said it a million times; authenticity is the name of the game in marketing in 2024.

Our influencer marketing agency and social agency are located worldwide, with our agency network based in the USA, UK, UAE and China.

If you want to find industry insights, visit our influencer marketing and social media blogs.

@sociallypowerful

Author

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Ella Proctor

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