Interested in what Jay-Z and only Jay-Z will bring to the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival? Better make a weekend of it. This year, Coachella promoters are doing away with single-day tickets and offering only a $269 three-day ticket, a move, Goldenvoice leader and festival architect Paul Tollett said, designed to help enhance the experience for three-day pass buyers.
In cutting the single-day pass -- it is not available now, and there is no intention to make it available closer to the fest or even at the Coachella gate -- Tollett stressed other changes to this year's three-day bonanza of music in the desert. Camping prices have decreased, down from $55 per person to $57 per slot, regardless of the number of campers you can "cram into the spot," according to the festival website, and Coachella has added in-and-out privileges.
"I understand that every time you make a change it’s great for some people, and it’s not great for others," Tollett said. "The other festivals around the world that have camping, you can buy only the pass. You don’t buy the single day -- Bonnaroo, Glastonbury, any of the super great ones."
But this decision wasn't based on me-too-syndrome.
Tollett noted that the vast majority of Coachella attendees spring for the three-day pass. Since Coachella expanded to three days in 2007, Tollett said that more than 80% of concert-goers have bought multi-day passes. Cutting out the single-day, $99 ticket may result in alienating a number of fest-goers -- a financially sizable 20% of Coachella fans.
But Coachella, Tollett said, is a three-day event, and his goal is improving the experience for those willing to spring for the mutli-day ticket. Limited hotel rooms in the area, Tollett said, factored into his decision, as well as improving the daily traffic around the festival.
"The thing is," Tollett said, "there’s a lack of hotels in the Coachella Valley, and most have a three-day minimum. Many times what happens is people get a hotel for the three days, and only go to Coachella for one or two of the days. They hit Friday and Saturday, and go home or rest at the hotel on Sunday. That’s no problem, but the problem with that is that there are people who want that hotel and are going for three days. The single- and two-day people are clogging up the hotels and making it so people who want to go for three days can’t find a hotel."
The move has its detractors. The Coachella message boards are filled with angry fans, including those visiting from out of town for only a day, or those who don't want to spend the $269-plus service fees for the full ticket.
An email to "firstname.lastname@example.org" generates an immediate auto-response, with the note that only three-day tickets will be available for 2010.
For cost-conscious fans, Tollett emphasizes that Goldenvoice is once again offering layaway tickets, hopefully easing the financial strain.
"We’re really trying to make it great for the fan," Tollett said. "We understand it will affect some people who want to go for one day, but we have to protect the three-day people. It was a complex decision. We put some thought into it, and we’re trying our best to make it a good experience."
Those who purchase tickets on the day-of, Tollett said, will likely find pro-rated rather than single-day tickets available.
-- Todd Martens