Shit You Should Care About… Coachella.
Yes, it’s that time of year again - it’s “Coachella szn bitches!!”
Over two weekends in April, influencers, millennials, celebrities, and even regular people (!!!) will attend the most famous music festival in the world - and you know what that means - so will everyone who is on social media.
Founded in 1999 and organised by the entertainment group Goldenvoice, Coachella has become so much more than just a music festival. It’s a marketing opportunity for brands, an instagram backdrop for influencers, and solid clickbait for vloggers. And I wanna talk about it.
Youtube and Coachella
Hands up if you’ve ever watched a Coachella vlog, or something with a title resembling “how I’m preparing for Coachella” or “Coachella outfit haul,” or “we rate celebrities Coachella outfits”, or even “the truth about Coachella #exposed.” If I wasn’t typing right now, both my hands would be in the air, because even if I tried to avoid it, each April, my Youtube recommendations are full of videos like this. And I digest them with pleasure.
Youtube and Youtubers capitalise off Coachella in the most obnoxious yet genius way. For nine consecutive years, Youtube has streamed the festival, but this year they are “turning it up a notch.” By turning it up, Youtube will also be live streaming the preview of Childish Gambino and Rihanna’s short film “Guava Island,” they’ll be streaming both the first and second weekend, and they’ll be introducing a new viewing experience called, Coachella Curated, which will “take a deep dive into the festival experience and deliver fans a slate of original content – encore and live performances, artist commentary, mini-docs, animated adventures and more,” reports Rolling Stone.
Youtubers also know that Coachella is going to get them views, and what do views mean? Money. If they mention Coachella in the title of their videos it’s instant clickbait, or better yet, if they mention a celebrity that they met at Coachella, then they’ll be drowning in views. Coachella also gives them a plethora of video ideas to choose from before, during, and after the event, as I mentioned above. So, if they’re smart, willing to put in the work, and are sponsored to be at the festival (I’ll get into this soon), then they’re away flying, and their careers can last a few more months.
With the help of Youtube, Coachella is no longer a single, stand alone music festival that is limited to those who hold a ticket. It is an idea that has been packaged and sold to everyone - even those who cannot go - by way of youtube videos, clothing lines, instagram photos, short films and so much more. Coachella is a product that we all buy into.
Influencers and Coachella
Much like Youtubers, Influencers are becoming pivotal to Coachella’s success, and are perfect little pawns for big brands who want to market to millennials or Gen Z. Big brands like Revolve and Dote, enlist influencers with a large following and either pay them to go - or, what is becoming more common, sponsor their trip, put them up in a fancy house, throw them some sort of extravagant and instagrammable pool party and dress them in the latest threads. This is a practice called “experience marketing.” And it obviously works, because before Coachella last year I had no idea who the hell Dote were. Revolve’s Co Founder Michael Mente puts it best, saying that they spend so much money on these influencers, because “Coachella, and more broadly festivals, have become the new fashion week for millennials.”
In return for this generosity, influencers have to hold up their part of the deal, and make sure they are taking lots of photos and posting lots of content. And this is why our instagram feeds are saturated with glittery photos of pre-pubescent American teenagers dressed in ridiculous outfits saying things like “100th Coachella post for the day #sorrynotsorry.” Wow I sound old. But you know I’m right.
Fashion and Coachella
Maybe “fashion” is a stretch, “dress up” could be the term I’m looking for.
Attendees use Coachella as a chance to release their inner extra, preparing months in advance to secure their perfect outfit, even if that outfit includes ass-less chaps (I’m talking about you James Charles.) Since Coachella kicks off “festival season,” clothing brands like Urban Outfitters, use it to launch their “festival” ranges, or new season lines of clothing that are “boho chic” and will make you totally hashtag Coachella ready.
I have always loved looking at the outfits that attendee’s put together. When I was younger I was always obsessed with Vanessa Hudgens, my ultimate bohemian queen, and as I got older, it was Kendall and Kylie with their coloured wigs and fancy nose piercings who stole the show.
Nowadays, however, we are existing amidst a definite “call out culture,” so I feel I have to touch on the cultural appropriation that can occur at Coachella. Even though I’m sure it’s never the intention, cultural appropriation, or using someone’s culture as an accessory is evident in a lot of outfits. It could be in the face accessories, i.e the stick on Bindi’s or war paint; in the headwear, i.e Native American feather head pieces; in the outfit itself i.e Japanese Kimono’s; or even in the hairstyles, exhibited by the amount of cornrows permeating our Instagram feeds. While it’s never ok to appropriate someones culture, I think it’s also important to look at the intent of these people. Are they being malicious? Are they trying to express themselves? Did they just want to braid their hair? Teen Vogue released a really thoughtful article on cultural appropriation at Coachella last year, so if you’re interested in learning more about this, as I’m sure I’ve only skimmed the surface, you can go and read it here.
And last but what shouldn’t be least (though it seems to be)… Music and Coachella
Every year Coachella kills it with the line up. I’m just gonna let it speak for itself here by listing some honourable mentions:
Kanye West (doing a sepal Easter Sunday Service in the second weekend)
You can see the other amazing acts here:
So, despite the fact that Coachella is used as a marketing opportunity, an instagram backdrop and clickbait, it is also a place where music acts get to showcase their creativity, and play to a pretty hype audience (who will also give them free marketing by including footage in their social media posts.)
Maybe one day I’ll get to experience Coachella for myself, but for right now, please let me get back to watching my “pick my Coachella outfits with me!” youtube video.