Ariana Grande is making history this Sunday, April 14, as the youngest ever Coachella headliner. She's also only the fifth woman ever to headline a day at Coachella in the festival's 19-year history. According to anonymous Twitter account Book More Women, this year's lineup comprises 35% women, which is the same as last year's breakdown. So how much does Coachella pay its female performers compared to its male performers? Apparently, it has a lot to do with where each performer falls on the lineup. As in, the names in the smaller-sized fonts at the bottom of the list get paid a lot less than the ones at the top.
Each weekend of Coachella, over 100,000 attendees descend on Indio Valley, generating a lot of money. In 2016, Coachella and Stagecoach saw $704 million in economic activity, and in 2017, Coachella festival alone grossed $114.6 million. Needless to say, the performers can earn hefty paychecks for their acts.
The good news is, this year there are more women second- and third-headliners than there have been in years past, including Janelle Monáe, Billie Eilish, Chvrches, Kacey Musgraves, Ella Mai, Maggie Rogers, Christine and the Queens, and H.E.R. (Solange was also supposed to be a second-headliner, but she just dropped out citing production issues.)
In 2017, The New Yorker reported that Kendrick Lamar, Radiohead, and Lady Gaga each received between three and four million for headlining, compared to some of the lesser-known artists on the lineup who made less than $10,000. And last year, Beyoncé made news as the first Black woman to headline Coachella in an iconic performance dubbed Beychella, for which she reportedly earned a figure within the 2017 headliner range as well. She then donated $100,000 of this to four historically Black colleges and universities. (Beyoncé's performance has been transformed into a film called Homecoming, which is premiering on Netflix on April 17.)
On the other end of the pay scale, Cardi B shared that she made $70,000 per weekend for her performances at Coachella last year, despite her second-line placement on the program, which really isn't much considering she says she spent $300,000 of her own money on the stage set. Here's hoping with more women higher up on the lineup this year, we'll get closer to gender equity at music festivals.