Coachella 2020 is cancelled. The California desert festival extraordinaire was one of the first major music events to be postponed in the wake of COVID-19, moving from its usual April dates to two weekends in October. In the three months since, it’s become increasingly evident that an event on Coachella’s scale could not happen safely this fall, so a late May report that the fest was looking into rescheduling for 2021 came as no surprise. Now, Billboard has confirmed it: Coachella will not happen this year.
The news is part of a larger story about Coachella’s parent company, Anschutz Entertainment Group, instituting massive personnel cutbacks including laying off 15% of its workforce, furloughing more than 100 employees across multiple divisions, and instituting 20–50% pay cuts. “Every employee worldwide will be impacted in one form or another,” AEG CEO Dan Beckerman reportedly wrote in an email to employees Monday. “It is an agonizing decision, but sadly, a necessary one.” AEG hopes to bring back the furloughed employees once it has instituted a timetable for reactivating its massive live concert enterprise. “The world is slowly re-opening, and our industry will re-open later and more slowly than most,” Beckerman wrote. The company supposedly expects to start throwing reduced-capacity shows at its vast network of venues either in the final quarter of this year or the first quarter of 2021.
As for Coachella, it may return in limited capacity format in April 2021, or AEG may hold out for a full-fledged Coachella experience in October 2021. About 40% of ticket buyers have reportedly requested refunds, and although AEG execs believe they could likely throw a 60% capacity Coachella in April, they’re waiting to pull the trigger until they know more about the trajectory of the pandemic. Whether the lineup will look anything like this year’s planned slate with headliners Rage Against The Machine, Travis Scott, and Frank Ocean also remains to be seen.
The news of Coachella 2020’s cancellation comes on the same day Lollapalooza finally announced its 2020 edition will not happen either. As of now the rescheduled Bonnaroo is still on for late September, but it seems like only a matter of time before that fest pulls the plug as well.