What it’s like to work at Coachella

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The average Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival visitor spends about $375 on admission. Photo courtesy of Emerson Harris

For this year’s Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, Marissa Bachand will be having a different experience than the average festival attendee. She’ll be working for the festival during the day, while getting to see musical acts for free.

“I really wanted to go but didn’t know if I could afford it, so I texted my cousin who is in charge of stage design at Coachella and asked how I could get a cheap ticket,” the freshman sociology major said. “He told me I could go for free and get paid if I was willing to work.”

During festival season, people will be working at a number of different festivals, while getting to enjoy the live music.

Even though it involves getting up at 6:30 a.m. that weekend, Bachand took the offer.

“We get paid $15 an hour and they have housing for us,” Bachand said. “I’ll be working in the showers and my shift is over at 2:30 (p.m.), so after that, we’re treated just like anyone else at the festival. We can go see whichever musicians we want to see.”

Bachand said that each weekend has a different set of workers.

People employed by Goldenvoice, the company that produces the festival, aren’t the only people working. Food and beverage vendors also attend and though it is hard work, it is a rewarding experience, said Andy Nguyen, co-founder of Afters Ice Cream, based in Los Angeles.

“It’s fast-paced, it’s fun, it’s tough, it’s draining and it’s a great opportunity to showcase your brand,” Nguyen said.

This year's Coachella Valley Music and Art Festival will be held April 15-24.

This year’s Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival will be held April 15-24. Photo courtesy of Emerson Harris

To be a vendor at the festival, businesses must apply through Best Beverage Catering, which coordinates all vendors, according to Coachella’s website. It states that only food and drink vendors can apply for the festival. Other businesses are not wanted or accepted by Coachella and Goldenvoice.

Graphic by katie Nishida

Graphic by Katie Nishida

For businesses like Afters Ice Cream, it can be a challenge to make working at Coachella happen.

“This year, we will have about 60 people working the festival,” Nguyen said. “We plan ahead by making sure we have enough product for the event as well as our stores – same goes for staff. With taking team members away from stores, we need everyone properly trained to handle both.”

Sophomore business major Emerson Harris is a big fan of the diversity in food vendors at festivals.

“The options are ridiculous and delicious,” Harris said. “I spend a decent amount of money on different food booths.”

Roughly 160,000 people went to Coachella in 2012 and $90 million was brought into the economy of the small town of Indio, California where the festival takes place, according to a 2013 National Public Radio report. This year, it is estimated that more than $106 million will go to businesses in Indio specifically, and $704 million into the global economy, said the Coachella Valley Economic Partnership in a report released March 15.

While the average Coachella-goer spends $375 on the admission ticket alone, Bachand is excited that she’ll be able to attend for free and also get paid.

“It’s my first time at Coachella and I have one friend coming with me, so that’ll be fun,” Bachand said. “We drive down Thursday night before the festival to start training, but it’s going to be awesome to basically be guests when we’re done working.”

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