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Coachella Delays 2020 Edition Due To Coronavirus Concerns

Fans watch singer Lizzo perform during the 2019 Coachella Festival last April.
Frazer Harrison
Getty Images for Coachella
Fans watch singer Lizzo perform during the 2019 Coachella Festival last April.

Another major American music festival and influencer hangout has been felled by coronavirus concerns. Coachella, which is held over two consecutive weekends, is being postponed. The dates are moving from Apr. 10 - 12 and Apr. 17 - 19 to the weekends of Oct. 9 and 16.

The announcement was made Tuesday afternoon by Coachella's promoter Goldenvoice, which is a subsidiary of the live event mammoth AEG. In the same announcement, Goldenvoice said it was moving Coachella's sister event, the Stagecoach country music festival, from the weekend of Apr. 24 to the weekend of Oct. 23.

In total, nearly 600,000 people attended the 2019 edition of Coachella (formally known as the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival). It also attracts high-profile sponsors and brands — from McDonald's to Yves Saint Laurent — that are eager to reach its Instagramming audiences.

On Monday, officials in Riverside County, Calif., which includes the city of Indio where Coachella is staged, announced that three people in the Coachella Valley had tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.

Goldenvoice said that it was making the move at the directive of Riverside County and local health officials. "While this decision comes at a time of universal uncertainty," the company said as part of a statement, "we take the safety and health of our guests, staff and community very seriously. We urge everyone to follow the guidelines and protocols put forth by public health officials."

The organizers did not say on Tuesday whether or not they had secured performances by the headlining acts that the festival had advertised for the April weekends: Rage Against the Machine, Travis Scott and Frank Ocean for Coachella and Thomas Rhett, Carrie Underwood and Eric Church for Stagecoach.

The company says it will offer refunds to current ticketgoers who are unable to attend in October.

The Coachella and Stagecoach news is part of ongoing tumult in the live events business worldwide due to coronavirus worries. On Friday afternoon, SXSW announced it had canceled its 2020 edition; on Monday, the organization laid off about one-third of its full-time employees. A spokesperson told member station KUT in Austin as part of a statement: "Those of us in the business of live events know the level of trust required to execute an event of SXSW's scale, and we are deeply sad to let people go this soon. We are planning for the future, and this was a necessary, but heartbreaking step."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Anastasia Tsioulcas is a reporter on NPR's Arts desk. She is intensely interested in the arts at the intersection of culture, politics, economics and identity, and primarily reports on music. Recently, she has extensively covered gender issues and #MeToo in the music industry, including backstage tumult and alleged secret deals in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations against megastar singer Plácido Domingo; gender inequity issues at the Grammy Awards and the myriad accusations of sexual misconduct against singer R. Kelly.