Cost tends to be the most common excuse I hear for why people who are interested in attending Coachella (or any other music festival) decide to pass year after year. Now I understand, individual priorities for spending discretionary income varies significantly from person to person, there are some people who are simply not that interested in music or attending festivals. This article really isn’t for those people, because it’s very possible that regardless of the money available to them, they will never attend an event like Coachella.
This article is for those readers, who do really want to attend Coachella, but have been held back due to doubts regarding the return on investment for those $400 tickets. Among my friends I know there are some who have spent hours, days, years weighing their desire to attend against their doubts that it will be worth the cost. To be honest, even after attending the festival for years, I was also curious what kind of return I was getting.
It sounded easy enough, but honestly some of the best benefits of Coachella are hard to monetize. How do I assign a value to the experience and memories from Coachella that draw me back year after year? Fortunately, the most important aspect of Coachella can be assigned a value: how much would it cost to see all of these artists if Coachella didn’t bring them all together so that I could see them in one place, over one weekend for one cost?
For simplicity, I decided to focus on single ticket cost for both Coachella and individual performers. This removes the variable costs of travel that will vary significantly from person to person and event to event. The individual tickets do include fees as those are almost always unavoidable when purchasing through major ticketing services.
I also only included the costs for the artists whose full set I saw during Weekend One. I consider the partial sets to be an added bonus. A list of the artists we saw each day and reviews for each are available here: Day One, Day Two, Day Three.
For individual shows, the cost I attributed to the individual band was based on whether or not they were the headliner of the show I would need to buy tickets for. If the artist was not the headliner, I attributed 25% of the ticket cost to the band as typically the higher markup would be due to the primary artist on the ticket. If the artist was the headliner, I attributed the full cost of the ticket as they would likely be the primary reason for attending. The only exception to this rule was a joint concert for Future Islands and Car Seat Headrest where I would be able to see both in one night, allowing the option to attribute 75% to Future Islands and 25% to Car Seat Headrest.
I restricted shows to the United States and tried to use tickets costs for west coast (closest to Coachella) when possible. Depending on the artist’s tour plans after Coachella, this wasn’t always possible. For example, Bon Iver is heading to Europe after Coachella, so I used his next US concert in Columbia, MD as my cost reference.
For shows with assigned seating, I based ticket cost on where I was standing during the set. For example, I was front row for Hans Zimmer at Coachella and when I looked it up I found that for an equivalent seat at an upcoming show in LA I’d be looking at paying $250 + fees.
I included the total ticket price, but my return on investment calculation is based on the lower adjusted price of $837.04.
Holy shit, that’s 210% of the cost of the ticket! Even I was surprised by this number, especially when considering that I had passed on seeing both Lady Gaga and Kendrick Lamar the first week. This calculation will obviously vary from person to person, but as you can see my list has a decent amount of indie bands and I still received a significant return. If you tend to see higher ticket performers, your return is likely to be significantly more.
Also did we mention what great spots we had for a ton of the shows?
We had an another amazing weekend at the Polo Fields. We saw a ton of bands we had missed during weekend one due to scheduling conflicts and repeated a few of our favorites like Bon Iver, The XX and Radiohead. Weekend Two reviews can be found here: Day One, Day Two, Final Review.
Similar to the format used for weekend one, I looked up individual costs required to see the bands we saw throughout the weekend and included the ticket price + any fees. You may notice some bands with ESTIMATE where the ticket location used would normally be, this indicates an estimate was used for the ticket price. The ticket price for these bands were estimated based on the ticket prices for an artist with similar placement on the Coachella poster. We realize this is not a perfect solution, but these bands either only have festivals scheduled and/or all tour dates are outside of the United States, leaving limited options. For reference, the artist we used to estimate the ticket price for each is listed below the table and marked by an asterisk.
Based on the 2017 ticket price of $399, this is a slightly lower return than we saw during weekend one, but still a great value at 184% return! Wow! As I mentioned last weekend, I knew how much I loved Coachella, but I love it even more now that I also know what a great value I’m getting on the ticket.
Even better, we again had really great spots for many of our favorite sets.
Combining the two weeks, I spent $798 on my ticket, which allowed me to see 29 artists, 34 shows (5 artists seen both weekends) for a total value of $1,572.
That’s 197% return on my Coachella ticket investment overall. I already knew I loved Coachella and will definitely be going for many years to come, but I’d be lying if I said figuring out what a great value it is hasn’t added some icing to my already delicious Coachella cake.