It was also in ‘99 that Coachella began. Heralded as the “anti-Woodstock 99”, it was formed as an indie alternative to a touring circuit dominated by Ticketmaster. Only 25,000 people attended, and the promoters took a huge loss. Five years later, it swelled to a sellout crowd of 110,000 and was purchased by a conglomerate called AEG Live, which owns several major arenas. Coachella could now afford to book much bigger names, at the expense of its independent spirit.
Over the next decade, festivals boomed, from Bonnaroo to Sasquatch to Lollapalooza. Live Nation, another conglomerate, now owns all of these and more, over 60 festivals in total. Consolidation has led to standardization. Instead of local flair and flavor, festivals from coast to coast now have similar line-ups and sponsors. To maximize profit and minimize risk, security grows ever tighter.
It seems like corporations somehow get their hands on everything eventually.