Showbiz, Baby: Making Music Festivals About Music
If you’re on any social media platform, you’ve probably seen an abundance of posts from the first weekend of Coachella. One of the best music festivals in the world has made a comeback after being canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic. Some ticket holders have kept their passes for the past two years, just waiting for their chance to attend.
What I noticed the most this weekend compared to previous years was the massive influx of influencers. My TikTok feed is flooded with hundreds of “Get Ready With Me” videos, aesthetic compilations, and the pinnacle of everything: Revolve Festival.
Every year, companies invite popular influencers to Coachella to hang out with them and promote their brand (if you remember 2019’s infamous “Dotechella”). In the past, YouTube has even given away free VIP passes, Google phones, and extra merchandise to influencers they partner with. Still, it looks like Revolve took the cake this year by inviting content creators to stay at the Revolve Hotel and attend their festival, but also inviting frequent customers to attend for the low price of $2,000. .
Apparently every other social media post I see is centered around the Revolve festival and its influencers. Now, maybe it’s my own algorithm’s fault, but I don’t feel alone in this. The brand is known for its role in the fashion industry and influencers are making sure to consolidate it. Everyone at their festival was sure to be dressed to impress, arriving ready for the perfect Instagram shot. From what I’ve seen, the photo shoot seems to be the only thing influencers care about. It’s less about enjoying the party and more about planning the next social media post. The one thing that seems to be missing in all of these posts is the music.
While fashion is undoubtedly a big part of Coachella, it’s not the only thing I want to see online. Looking at some of the creators’ social media profiles, it doesn’t even look like they went to the actual music festival. A few even admitted to not having succeeded at all. I understand that’s part of your job, but how do you go to an event as important as Coachella and not take advantage of the artists?
As one of those 2020 ticket holders, I was personally waiting for Coachella to finally come back. I was thrilled to see that this year’s lineup was filled with artists I love – from big headliners like Harry Styles, Billie Eilish and The Weeknd to smaller poster artists like Japanese Breakfast, Role Model and Olivia O’Brien. Don’t even get me started on Doja Cat. I know a lot of fans would kill to see these artists live, and influencers all seem to take them for granted.
Coachella 2022 should be a celebration of the return of live music and concerts, but influencers are making the festival feel like one big publicity campaign. I recognize that this is how they make a living, but as people who have mastered the TikTok algorithm, I think they could give us more. I want real concert videos, I want everyone screaming with every song. While I love fashion and vlogs, party music to music.
When fashion wasn’t so big at 60s music festivals, it was all about bringing together and celebrating culture. Amid controversy and war, Woodstock provided an opportunity for escape and unity through music in 1969. The festival created community and became a symbol of the counterculture. However, Woodstock was not the first to embody these values. Two years earlier, in 1967, the Monterey Pop Festival was the first major American rock festival. This too illustrated the beginning of the counterculture and the Summer of Love, a social phenomenon filled with hippies and psychedelic rock.
Festivals like this were more political in nature, with the music representing more than the industry itself. There were no extravagant amenities that came with extra charges. They were for music lovers to socialize and party and really enjoy the performances. It wasn’t a question of aesthetics, it was a question of music.
Decidedly, the festivals have taken a turn since then. The original values have been dropped as festivals are now more concerned with ticket sales and social status. Influencers flocked to Coachella just to be seen. Sponsored videos and images are displayed left and right to show a brand’s new line.
Technology and social media, like everything else, have completely changed the festival industry. The consumer explosion made fashion the highlight of Coachella and consequently attracted all influencers to the event. It was reduced to a publicity opportunity rather than recognizing the festival for what it is. I’m always one to appreciate a good Coachella outfit, but at the same time, nothing about the festival or the music really changes if you decide to show up in sweatpants.
For weekend 2, let’s be sure to celebrate the return of live music and artists taking over the Coachella stage.
Sarah Hendartono is a sophomore who writes about entertainment industry news. She is also the design director of the pages of the Daily Trojan. His column, “Showbiz, Baby,” airs every other Tuesday.