While artist merchandise has long been a part of the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival experience, there has been a major shift in how artists showcase and sell their merchandise.
The main merchandising tent, which houses hundreds of t-shirts, hoodies, bandanas, socks, posters, blankets, stickers, patches and more, had a steady line of at least 1,000 customers at any one time throughout throughout each festival day at the Empire Polo Club in Indio. However, specific artists have started working with a wide variety of brands to create Coachella-exclusive merchandise that, in most cases, can only be purchased at the festival site.
Of course, all this comes at a higher cost.
Rare and exclusive
As well as having her own massive pop-up store near the main entrance, Saturday headliner Billie Eilish and singer-songwriter Conan Gray have each worked with American Express to design and release in-edition merchandise. limited. Eilish created a salvaged and recycled black hoodie with her image on it for $100 and Gray contributed a watermelon-colored crew-neck sweater with cactus embroidery for $70. Both were available through the online Amex Artist Shop where Eilish’s hoodie sold out just 15 minutes after its April 15 release. The rest of the stock was available on-site for American Express cardholders queuing to visit the American Express Lounge, which only made items available on the two Fridays of the festival.
“Of course we have these hoodies; it’s Billie and she’s a queen,” said George Chavez of Anaheim. He snooped online weeks before the festival to see if any of the headliners would partner with American Express since they had previously collaborated with 2019 headliner Ariana Grande. Although he and his friends waited in line for over an hour to buy the hoodies, “I’m glad we got here and it’s so worth it,” he said.
Friday headliner Harry Styles has created several event-exclusive shirts, sweaters and hoodies ranging from $45 to $75 for his Harry’s House pop-up near the festival’s main entrance. Her beauty business, Pleasing, also had a bold and colorful nail polish bar experiment that offered free manicures to fans and sold Coachella-specific bandanas for $20 and oversized hoodies for $110.
As part of its GV BLACK x Coachella initiative, the festival has partnered with six Southern California black designers and brands, including Nicholas Mayfield, Kacey Lynch, Diana Boardley, Brownstone, Gavin Mathieu and Skid Row Fashion Week to sell festival-themed merchandise in the Coachella courtyard boutique. Each designer came up with a variety of images and designs for clothes, including shorts, t-shirts, hoodies, denim jackets and more, ranging from $60 to $300.
Fans watching from home could also purchase additional exclusive merchandise from Eilish as well as Brockhampton and Flume artists who have collaborated with YouTube, which broadcasts live both weekends of the festival. The goods were only available during the April 16 livestream. The same range of products will be available again on the following Saturday, April 23, during the second weekend of the festival. The collection includes t-shirts for $35 to $45, long-sleeve shirts for $45, and woven blankets for $80.
Virtual marketplace StockX has teamed up with Coachella artists to launch 10 exclusive capsule collections, which became available globally on April 11 with prices ranging from $30 to $140 per item. Some of the partnerships include Snoh Aalegra x Melody Ehsani, 88Rising x AMBUSH, and Vince Staples x Brownstone. Instead of an on-site physical store, StockX set up an immersive art installation, which resembled three staircases between the Mohave and Gobi stages, where fans could scan a QR code to order merchandise directly from the site.
Brands and groups
While spotting big brands on tents on the festival grounds is nothing new, things have changed. Instead of pop-ups offering free swag, fans are now lining up for exclusive festival experiences or seeking RSVP invitations through social media and brand mailing lists. Companies like Heineken Lager Beer and Absolut Vodka have set up lounges for people 21 and older to relax, enjoy drinks and participate in their activations. Ray-Ban Sunglasses and Postmates had pop-ups that offered fans a variety of photo experiences and free festival-exclusive goodies while Frito-Lay made its festival debut with an inside chip-tasting experience of its Potatodomes in the festival campgrounds.
Branding and cross-marketing even took over Coachella’s main stage on Saturday as music collective 88rising, which represents a number of Asian American artists and partners of Coachella event promoters Goldenvoice for Head in the Clouds Festival, had its own Head in the Clouds Forever showcase with performances by CL, Jackson Wang, Hikaru Utada, Milli, Bibi, Warren Hue, Niki and Rich Brian.
Ahead of the festival, 88rising launched three exclusive NFT (non-fungible token) collections filled with digital collectibles and opportunities for in-person on-site experiences. Fans could own part of the Head in the Clouds Forever performance with visuals by Curry Tian and take part in the festival’s first-ever NFT scavenger hunt.