1.First, Coachella was founded in 1999 by Paul Tollett, CEO of Goldenvoice, an LA-based concert production company, and Rick Van Santen, an LA promoter. The duo notably created the festival because they wanted a place where punk bands and artists could perform in an effort to help usher them in "from the fringes of the music scene to a wide audience."
2.The first Coachella was reviewed as "an antidote to Woodstock '99s hangover" by Rolling Stone. Coachella took place three months after Woodstock '99, which was filled with controversy due to poor sanitation conditions, crime, death, and much more.
3.Beck and Rage Against the Machine were the two headliners at the very first Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in 1999. At the time, the festival was only two days and was held in October.
4.Every year, Coachella is held at the Empire Polo Club in Indio, California. Prior to Coachella, the venue was actually where Pearl Jam performed a concert in 1993 when they were boycotting Ticketmaster-controlled venues due to the huge service fees Ticketmaster charges fans — which is still an issue today.
5.Tickets for the first Coachella were $50 per day, plus fees. Now, general admission passes for 2023 are $549, plus fees, with VIP passes starting at $1,069, plus fees.
6.For 2023, one of the most expensive passes available for purchase was $15,000, and was described as "be among the first to stay in a Safari Residence, a new studio-style accommodation type on the beloved Safari Campground," per Coachella's website.
7.In 2017, Coachella reportedly earned more than $114 million in profit, which was the first time the festival had broken the $100 million mark in a single year — in comparison, the first Coachella reportedly LOST close to $1 million in 1999.
8.According to Paul Tollett, the year he "lost the most money" was in 2008 when Prince became a headliner at the last minute. Prince was announced as a headliner on April 9, with the festival taking place the weekend of April 25, a mere 16 days later.
9.Coachella has a strict curfew policy, which is part of their contract with the city of Indio. Reportedly, if a concert exceeds its curfew, Goldenvoice has to pay $5,000, and if it goes beyond five extra minutes, they reportedly have to start paying $1,000 per minute.
10.Notably, in 2009, Paul McCartney played 54 minutes past curfew on opening night, and The Killers went 30 minutes too long on Saturday night. Then, when The Cure began to go 30+ minutes past curfew on Sunday, Goldenvoice CEO Paul Tollett reportedly had them cut power to the venue, sending their set to a sudden stop.
11.In 2018, Beyoncé became the first Black woman to headline Coachella. Her now iconic set also became the most-viewed performance on a YouTube livestream. The two-hour performance was streamed simultaneously by 458,000 viewers on YouTube worldwide.
12.A Star Is Born starring Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper filmed at Coachella in 2017 while Lady Gaga was headlining. They shot scenes during the week in between Coachella weekends. Also, it was some of the first moments they filmed for the movie.
13.According to an interview with Paul Tollett, the 2017 headliners — Lady Gaga, Kendrick Lamar, and Radiohead — were slated to receive between $3 million to $4 million for playing Coachella.
14.Meanwhile, in 2015, Billboard reported that non-headlining acts apparently earn anywhere from $500 to $100,000, which is sometimes more than a band would make on one stop on their own tour.
15.It was reported that Ariana Grande and Beyoncé were each paid $4 million per weekend for headlining Coachella in 2018 and 2019 respectively, for a total of $8 million.
16.The booking process for Coachella reportedly takes about six months, and starts as early as August, with the festival happening in April the following year. Paul Tollett looks at Goldenvoice-produced concerts, pitches from agents and friends, and talent he discovers on YouTube and other social media platforms to curate the Coachella lineup.
17.There is a "radius clause" in each of the performers' contracts, which essentially bans artists from performing at shows in most of Southern California for several months leading up to Coachella, and reportedly lasting "a full month" after it's over.
18.Some booking agents have found a way around the "radius clause" by having their artists, especially lesser-known ones, play concerts in Las Vegas and San Francisco during that period of time, and even between Coachella weekends.
19.Placement on the iconic Coachella poster translates to how much an act is being paid, and it has reportedly even led to future asking prices of acts being higher or lower, especially for DJs.
20.Prior to the release of the poster, Goldenvoice CEO Paul Tollett tells agents which line of the poster their act will end up on. And, there have been "many arguments" over the various font sizes on the poster.
21.Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg's headlining set in 2012 notably featured a Tupac Shakur hologram, which was met with a lot of confusion by the crowd and people watching at home. There were countless explainers on how the technology worked, with a few criticizing its use. Tupac's mom was reportedly "thrilled" with the use of the hologram.
22.During his 2008 headlining set, Roger Waters's giant, two-story inflatable pig floated away. The pig, which has been part of Pink Floyd's concerts since their 1977 album Animals, was eventually found after it landed in La Quinta, less than two miles from the Coachella venue.
23.Billie Eilish is currently the youngest Coachella headliner in the festival's history. She was 20 years old when she headlined in 2022. The record was previously held by Ariana Grande, who was 25 years old when she headlined Coachella in 2019.
24.In 2022, an estimated 750,000 people were expected to attend over the course of the six-day festival, with some calling it another "generation shift" for Coachella, whose lineup that year featured a lot of younger acts like Harry Styles, Billie Eilish, Megan Thee Stallion, Phoebe Bridgers, and more.
25.At least 100,000 people reportedly attended Harry Styles's headlining set in 2022 — in comparison, 1999's Coachella was attended by roughly 17,000 to 20,000 people in total per day.
26.Alongside the music, Coachella is also known for its art, which has been part of the festival since 1999. Originally, Coachella repurposed art pieces from Burning Man, but now the festival commissions original work from around the world alongside a continued collaboration with Burning Man artists.
27.In fact, Coachella has an art director, whose job it is to curate the artwork for the six-day festival. Paul Clemente has been the main curator since 2007, and he was previously a volunteer.
28.In 2023, Bad Bunny became the first Spanish-language artist to ever headline Coachella. His set lasted two hours and was one of the longer Coachella sets in recent years.
29.The Coachella poster is a nod to Paul Tollett and Goldenvoice's punk music roots. When he was younger, Tollett used to make flyers for his brother's band, and they've kept the same DIY, transfer letters style for the Coachella poster all these years later.
30.Daft Punk's performance in 2006 is considered one of the most memorable Coachella moments. An estimated 40,000 people rushed the Sahara Tent, a venue that could only hold around 10,000, to watch the French duo, who are credited with showing the full scope of electronic music during this concert.
31.A drought in 2000 caused Coachella to skip their second year, and it ended up returning in 2001 with Jane's Addiction as the headliner. The only other times Coachella was canceled was in 2020 and 2021 due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
32.Every year, Coachella announces its lineup as close to New Year's Day as possible, and that's on purpose. The iconic Coachella poster is released around this time every year because the event wants to be the first of the big musical festivals of the year to announce a lineup.
33.And finally, in 2013, the city of Indio agreed to host both Coachella and Stagecoach festivals through 2030. In order to keep up with the increase capacity of the festival, Goldenvoice purchased 280 acres of land surrounding the Empire Polo Club, in order to make more space for parking and general use.