Coachella is postponed.
Organizers of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, the giant pop festival in the picturesque desert of Southern California, have delayed next month’s event to October over concerns about the coronavirus, the festival announced on Tuesday after days of speculation.
The festival, which had been planned in two weekend installments, April 10 to 12 and April 17 to 19, will now take place six months later, Oct. 9 to 11 and Oct. 16 to 18. In a brief statement, the festival made no comment about the lineup, but the original event was to feature Travis Scott, Frank Ocean and a reunion of Rage Against the Machine, along with dozens of other acts, and talent agents have scrambled in recent days to attempt to preserve as much as the original lineup as possible.
Also postponed is Stagecoach, a country music festival presented by the same festival promoters, Goldenvoice, which will now take place Oct. 23 to 25. Both events take place at the Empire Polo Club in Indio, Calif.
In its statement, the festival said that the move was being taken “at the direction of the County of Riverside and local health authorities.”
Even rescheduled, the postponement of Coachella could pose a significant disruption to the annual concert season. The event, founded in 1999, draws up to 125,000 people a day and has come to be a bellwether for the multibillion-dollar touring business.
In just the last week, the music industry has hunkered down in expectation of changes to come with the spread of coronavirus. Executives at the major promotion companies and talent agencies — among them Live Nation, AEG, WME, Creative Artists Agency and Paradigm — have formed a task force to share information and establish practices for dealing with virus-related problems and delays.
Last week, health officials in Riverside County, Calif., which encompasses the Coachella Valley, said they were “moving forward” with allowing major public gatherings. But on Sunday, the county declared a public health emergency after the discovery of the first locally acquired case of coronavirus there, and the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament in nearby Indian Wells was canceled.
On Monday, three more cases were announced, all from the Coachella Valley region.
Also on Monday, Pearl Jam announced the postponement of its North American tour, and Neil Young said he was considering postponing his own tour.
“We’ve worked hard with all our management and business associates to find other solutions or options,” Pearl Jam wrote on its website, “but the levels of risk to our audience and their communities is simply too high for our comfort level.”
On Friday, the 34th annual South by Southwest festival — a 10-day smorgasbord of music, film and technology, in Austin, Tex. — was abruptly canceled by city and county health officials, only two days after they had said that pulling the plug would not make the community safer. Festival organizers have since said that they did not have insurance to cover cancellation by pandemics or communicable disease, and that they would be laying off a third of their full-time staff.