The promoters of an Oregon music festival have filed an anti-trust lawsuit against Coachella Music Festival and its organizers, alleging that the popular multi-weekend affair in California uses its market clout to unfairly block artists from performing at other festivals. The suit, filed in Portland’s United State District Court on Monday, was brought by Soul’d Out Productions, LLC, and names Anschutz Entertainment Group, The Anschutz Corporation, Goldenvoice, AEG Presents and the Coachella Music Festival itself as defendants.
At issue is what the lawsuit refers to as a “radius clause,” which artists who perform at Coachella are required to sign as part of their contract for the performance. That clause prevents acts performing at Coachella this year to play venues in California, Arizona, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington from December 15, 2017 until May 7, 2018. “Such a clause has a substantial chilling effect on the market for music venues within the territory covered by the radius clause,” the complaint says.
According to Billboard, Soul’d Out Music Festival – which focuses specifically on the soul and R&B world rather than the sprawl of Coachella – attempted to sign acts including SZA and Daniel Caesar to perform, only to find the radius clause and the refusal to grant an exception despite their location over 1,000 miles distant from Indio, California blocking the way.
Lawyer Nicholas F. Aldrich says numerous artists have turned down participating in Soul’d Out, citing “the unlawful radius clause in their contracts with Coachella as the sole reason that they cannot do so.” It also accuses Goldenvoice of utilizing a tying arrangement to allow artists to break the radius clause by performing at AEG-sanctioned events while enforcing the agreement for competing events.
The lawsuit seeks a judgement that declares the radius clause to be void and unenforceable as well as treble damages for the antitrust violations it alleges.
Soul’d Out is set to take place from April 18-22, featuring acts including Erykah Badu, De La Soul, Wyclef Jean and Rebirth Brass Band across ten venues, according to the event website. Coachella spans the weekend prior to Soul’d Out as well as the weekend of it near Los Angeles. This year’s headliners include Beyonce, Eminem, The Weeknd, SZA, Haim, David Byrne, and scores more.