Portland-based Soul'd Out Productions, organizers of the Soul'd Out Music Festival, today sued California's Coachella Music Festival and its affiliated companies for what Soul'd Out says are monopolistic businesses practices.
At issue is a contract that Coachella—which takes place in Indio, Calif.—allegedly asks artists to sign. It bars them from performing at any other festival or themed event in a 1,300-mile radius for five months surrounding the event. Soul'd Out, which takes place in Portland during Coachella's second weekend, says the practice is unlawful and dangerous.
Coachella is the largest music festival in the U.S. Last year, it became the first annual festival to gross $100 million in ticket sales.
"We seek no less than to operate in a fair and open environment," co-owner and co-founder of Soul'd Out Productions, Nicholas Harris, said in a statement. "But as our industry has become more consolidated, it is subjected to more and more corporate tactics that penalize the public. Music, and the culture that births it, is not a commodity to be exploited."
The lawsuit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court of Oregon today, claims that Coachella and its affiliate companies—Goldenvoice, AEG Presents, Anschutz Entertainment Group and the Anschutz Corporation—are violating federal antitrust laws in Oregon and California by enforcing a "radius clause."
"Radius clauses," Soul'd Out wrote in a statement, "lead to higher prices, fewer venues, less consumer choice and lesser quality experiences for the consumer."
Soul'd Out Productions also seeks to receive damages from Coachella for injuries that it says include artists turning down performances for fear of contractual repercussions. One artist in particular, SZA, was allegedly scheduled to play both Soul'd Out and Coachella but pulled out of Soul'd Out after learning about the radius clause.
"It is remarkable that Coachella thinks it is reasonable to exert its market power over 1,000 miles away, to harm a much smaller, regional music event," says Nika Aldrich, attorney for Soul'd Out Productions. "We look forward to having a Portland jury hear Soul'd Out's complaint."
Coachella and its associate Goldenvoice did not immediately respond to WW's request for comment.
Soul'd Out takes place at multiple venues around Portland April 18-22, with headliners including Erykah Badu, De La Soul and Tipper. Coachella is scheduled for two weekends, April 13-15 and 20-22, with the Weeknd, Beyoncé and Eminem headlining.