The promoter argues that Coachella's restrictive radius clause, a clause in place to prevent artists from booking festival appearances within 1,300 miles of Indio, California between December 2017 and May 2018, is in violation of federal anti-trust laws.
The two-weekend Coachella festival starts on Friday. It's a highly sought after gig for musicians.
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"By means of this clause, Defendants prohibit artists who seek to perform at Coachella from performing at any other festival or themed event within a distance that extends over 1,300 miles (2,092 km), and for a period of almost five months surrounding Coachella", the lawsuit noted. (Representatives from Coachella did not immediately respond to The Outline's request for comment about how the extent of the radius clause has changed over the years.) The artist contracts holding such details are largely private, though Soul'd Out's complaint states that "prior years' versions of the radius clause did not extend to OR and Washington".
Representatives for Coachella did not respond to requests for comment.
Such radius clauses, say Soul'd Out's lawyers at Portland-based Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt, "are expressly forbidden by California" and meant to use "Coachella's market power in the music festival market to suppress competition by other festivals". "On the other hand, there is an argument that [the radius clause ensures] promotion is something that Coachella can do without worrying about being undercut by a competitor that can free ride on their work".
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Coachella is an annual musical event near Palm Desert, California nearly 1,100 miles from Portland.
Consumer protection laws in California, where Coachella is based, prohibit such anticompetitive contracts, Soul'd Out says, and also prohibit Coachella's practice of waiving the restriction for venues that pay kickbacks.
"We seek no less than to operate in a fair and open environment", Soul'd Out Productions co-owner and co-founder Nicholas Harris reportedly said in a release. Music, and the culture that births it, is not a commodity to be exploited.
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