When Coachella decided to expand into a two-weekend festival in 2012, many in the music industry thought the then-unprecedented gamble could backfire on the fest’s promoter Goldenvoice. But six years in, the second weekend — whose lineup completely replicates the first — has found a niche not just with fans, who on message boards often discuss its vibe as the less “sceney,” more “music-forward” weekend, but music business professionals as well.
According to a booking insider, requests for all-access passes — wristbands allowing entry to the backstage area where artist trailers are corralled and side-stage access during performances — drop 70% from weekend one to weekend two. Why?
For one, the onslaught of celebrity attendees is generally confined to weekend one, when social media exposure is at its peak. That means many non-performers — and their posses — milling about, straining facilities, parking and crowding the onstage viewing areas. In addition, when an artist on the bill is performing with an elaborate production for the first time — a la Beyonce — that also draws an influx of extra players on hand to ensure all goes according to plan.
Indeed, the backstage area on weekend two is noticeably mellower, a fact that is not lost on music biz insiders. “The second weekend’s good because more business gets done,” says Josh Rittenhouse, who works with urban artists at agency APA. “It’s less crowded with celebrities, and more business people are back here. We work in a people-relationship business, and it’s always good to get face-time with people you do business with, and don’t get to see all the time — the people you know through email.”
His colleague, Ferry Rais-Shaghaghi, who heads electronic music at APA, agrees that fewer distractions mean, “it’s much easier to connect with people and have a good hang. [On] weekend one, everyone and their mother is out here.”
Weekend two can also be freeing to managers looking to make their way around the venue. “This is where music fans live,” says Adam Harrison, who, along with Irving Azoff and Adam Levine, runs management company CAM. Harrison was at the fest with Chromeo, and says that though his full attention is on them (“nothing but love towards an artist all day long”), weekend two also gives him the chance to see acts through the lens of a fan. “I’m here [this weekend] to see David Byrne and Bleachers — bands that touch my heart.”
East End Management’s Evan Bright, who’s at the fest with up-and-coming-rockers Cherry Glazerr, puts it even more succinctly. “It’s much more chill,” he says. “There’s just way less stress.”