Monday, January 16, 2012 at 10 a.m.
So listen up, Goldenvoice. You and I need to have a serious discussion about how I, a loyal customer who can honestly say that the Coachella grounds are my favorite place in the world, got screwed out of tickets this year.
Where do we begin in regards to the issues with the ticket purchasing portal? First of all, it turned out there was no real queue for the people on the standby page and people got picked for tickets at random. The same thing happened back in June during the pre-sale. Sure, nobody who was on the standby page was guaranteed tickets in the first place because they aren't guaranteed anything on the purchase page either, but a lot of people still got screwed out of tickets. Some people got into the portal three times while others didn't get in at all. Some people who entered the purchase portal a few minutes after it opened got picked for tickets right away while others who entered it before them didn't get picked. That's certainly not fair to those who waited the longest and got nothing.
There should have been a proper queue where the first people who got into the virtual line are the people who would have gotten tickets. Establishing a first come, first serve system would have eliminated a lot of problems and would relieve everyone who didn't get a ticket from their anger towards Coachella and Goldenvoice. On top of that, many computers still had people on the standby page after the festival passes for both weekends had completely sold out. That's not right.
I'm not one to advocate using Ticketmaster, but they did one hell of a better job at managing Coachella's ticket sales in the past than Front Gate Tickets did this year. Once Ticketmaster finds your tickets, which never takes more than two minutes before you're told to try again, it reserves your tickets for you right away. In this case, nobody's tickets were reserved, and people waited hours for tickets to no avail.
Is Coachella even worth the price this year anyway? The answer is simple: If you feel whatever amount you paid for a ticket is a decent price for the number of artists you want to see live at Coachella, then yes, it's worth it. You also have to consider how you'll fill each day you spend at the festival. My roommate has what she calls a "seven band rule." It's a brilliant decision regarding the justification of attending a music festival. The seven band rule is where you need to have at least seven bands per day that you really want to see for the festival to be worth it. One should also take into account the convenience factor of Coachella; that is, you're seeing so many performances all in one place. That's all good and fun, but what fires me up more than the ticket prices is the fact that I was robbed of an experience this year.
The experience for a lot of true Coachella fans, as opposed to that of people who got tickets because the festival has become mainstream, has been tarnished this year
. Splitting up the experience into two weekends makes the experience less genuine overall. Opening up the experience to people who aren't as passionately excited about it makes it less special because the true fans used to be a part of something that only happened once. Now some festival goers will be left to wonder if they picked the right weekend to go. They'll wonder what they missed by choosing the weekend that they did. Lots of people will think, "I wish I got to hear these songs that so-and-so played at the other set instead."
Furthermore, the split into two weekends and the impossibly fast sellout of the tickets has made it hard for groups of people to coordinate their festival trip. If three weekends existed, group planning would go to shit. Frankly, I wouldn't be surprised if there are four weekends of Coachella next year. Yet from a business perspective, I can't really blame Goldenvoice for taking a chance with creating a second weekend for Coachella. In fact, it's respectable that they would make such a risky move. While it's kind of a sell-out (no pun intended) move to make everyone's experience less special in exchange for making more money, I'm sure Goldenvoice is laughing all the way to the bank. They're just doing their job of keeping up with supply and demand, and they're doing it well.
What could Goldenvoice do to accomodate people with tickets more fairly in the future? Not that I would want them to, but raising the ticket prices next year might slow down the purchase rate a little bit. It's understandable that Goldenvoice wants to raise their prices every year. But all I ask is that they come up with a better ticketing system.
But what would happen if other festivals that have a high demand for their tickets follow suit? What if, in three years from now, there are two weekends of 10 other festivals? Concert experiences would begin to regularly be disgustingly diluted, and just the thought of that is disappointing and disheartening. Step up your game next year, Goldenvoice, or you'll lose me and a lot of other loyal Coachellians for good.