Coachella’s “radius cause” is ruled valid

May 2020

COMPETITION: A US District Judge has ruled that the Coachella festival’s controversial ‘radius clause’ that prevents other festivals booking artistes which it has secured exclusively is valid and does not fall foul of US anti-trust laws, despite the claim that the contractual restriction preventing acts on the Coachella bill from playing at any other festival in North America from 15 December to 1 May, amounts was anti-competitive behaviour on the part of organisers. The clause meant ‘Coacxhella’ acts had to avoid bookings at North American festivals and headline concerts in five states, from announcing plans to play other events until after the Coachella line-up release in January, and from publicising appearances at West Coast festivals until after Coachella closed.

Oregon based Soul’d Out Promotions had tried to book Coachella performer, SZA, to their Portland festival only to be turned down, they said, because of the terms of Goldenvoice’s radius clause. The promoters also claimed the funk-soul group, Tank and the Bangas, canceled after agreeing to play their 2018 festival because of a conflict with their Coachella commitment.

The Coachella legal team defended the policy, explaining in a court filing accessed by Amplify that “the entire purpose of the radius clause is to protect AEG from competitors unfairly free-riding on its creative choices in selecting its artist lineup.” The filing stated that “maintaining a unique festival lineup is crucial for Coachella to remain competitive.” AEG’s lawyers also protested against the release of the radius clause letter, that was provided “for settlement purposes only”.

Judge Michael Mosman sitting on Oregon dismissed a lawsuit brought by Soul’d Out against Coachella Music Festival (125,000-cap.), and organisers AEG and Goldenvoice. The dismissal with prejudice prevents Soul’d Out Productions’ Nicholas Harris and Haytham Abdulhadi from re-filing the suit.

“We are pleased with the court’s decision today to dismiss the lawsuit challenging the agreements between Coachella and artists,” says Shawn Trell, general counsel and chief operating officer for Goldenvoice and AEG Presents adding  “Coachella is focused on providing an incredible festival experience for both fans and artists, and looks forward to another special event next month.”

In addition to dismissing the antitrust claims, Mosman also said that he planned to dismiss claims of unlawful restraint of trade, unfair competition and tortious interference. Harris and Abdulhadi have 30 days to appeal the ruling.

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