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Annie Mac

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How Music Streaming Algorithms Hinder Female Artists

Music events, popular playlists and even entire genres tend to skew heavily towards male artists—music streaming platform's algorithms may be partially to blame

GRAMMYs/Nov 8, 2018 - 06:06 am

It's always a special moment when a festival lineup you've been anticipating is finally announced, yet so often it's tinged when your see it and have to ask: Wait, where are all the women? We've known that live music events don't book enough women for some time now, so why hasn't the gender gap shifted more?

As Tshepo Mokoena recently highlighted in her Noisey op-ed, music streaming platforms are partly at fault as not only do their popular playlists favor male artists, research shows their algorithms do as well, consequently promoting a continued gender imbalance. As men continue to be more heavily promoted to listeners and receive more streams, many festivals, especially those run by the streaming companies, will continue to keep booking more men. Algorithms are not going to help the music industry have better gender equality until the humans lead the way.

As streaming continues to shift music consumption, Spotify continues to play a major role in how music listeners, especially younger ones (55% users are between ages 18-34), discover new music and artists. Mokoena highlights the sparsity of women on some of Spotify's most popular playlists, including RapCaviar, often seen as a list of who's hot in hip-hop in the U.S., where only 10.8 percent of artists featured from May 2016 to December 2017 were female. While female rappers may historically be a minority, Lil' Kim and Missy Elliott have paved the way for next generation of rappers like Nicki Minaj and Cardi B to set new records and break the mold for what a rapper looks and sounds like. There are, of course, plenty of other talented female rappers currently making waves, like Northern California's Saweetie and London's Stefflon Don, yet looking at playlists like RapCaviar, you wouldn't know that. At the time this was written Cardi B and Minaj are the only females on the playlist.

As Mokoena points out, Spotify's algorithms may partially be to blame for the continued unequal representation of female artists in music, yet so are people. She points to Liz Pelly's experiment for Baffler, where she set up a test Spotify account and listened only to popular playlists, including RapCaviar and others (like Today's Top Hits and New Music Friday, which also featured more male artists) to see what music the service would suggest for her, which were more male-heavy playlists. As Spotify explained, they choose music experts and cultural ambassadors to curate many of their playlists. As people continue to making gender-skewed playlists, algorithms will follow their lead. In Mokoena's words; "That's not just a coincidence – algorithms reflect the culture in which they're developed."

Inevitably, Spotify charts and data from other steaming services and social networks play into which artists get booked at festivals, which are slowly starting to address gender inequality. Earlier this year 100 music festivals and conferences globally pledged to fight the gender gap by creating a 50/50 gender balance on their lineups by 2022 with the UK-based Keychange initiative. This is a step in the right direction, especially given Pitchfork's 2017 findings that showed that of 23 music festival lineups in 2017, including their own Pitchfork Music Festival, only 14 percent of acts booked were female.

At this year's Coachella Beyoncé made history as the first ever black female to headline the popular festival since its inception 19 years ago, a baffling fact. Queen Bey was actually slated to headline in 2017, yet dropped out due to her pregnancy and was replaced by Lady Gaga, who was the first solo female headliner at the event in 10 years, since Bjork in 2007. According to Paper, the festival increased its female artist presence from 25 percent of performers in 2017 to 33 in 2018, the year many dubbed as "Beychella."

Mokoena looks at the lineups for two upcoming music festivals she deems important to UK music and compares them: Spotify's Who We Be Live in London, a grime and rap focused event inspired by the streaming service's playlist of the same name that serves as somewhat of a UK version of RapCaviar and not surprisingly has a male-heavy lineup, and Annie Mac's AMP Lost & Found in Malta, an electronic music focused event whose lineup features a more impressive offering of female artists.

Mac is an important figure in dance music being an influential DJ who has hosted popular BBC Radio 1 shows since 2004 that have helped put many younger DJs and producers on the map. She is personally making sure that her festival reflects the true diversity of the electronic genre.   Mac clearly understands her role as an influential women in dance music and took it seriously when booking talent for the festival.

"There's so much brilliant female talent in electronic music at the moment that it's a no-brainer to be able to make as much of an equal gender split as possible with a dance music festival, she told Noisey. "I'm so excited to see all these brilliant new girls that we've booked play, like CC:DISCO!, DEBONAIR, Emerald and then obviously the more established DJs like Shanti Celeste and SAOIRSE up to Honey Dijon and Peggy Gou. It's a joy to be able to put it all that talent in one place."

Electronic music is another heavily male-dominated genre, so it is important to have women like her who are aware of the challenges of being a female in the industry and able to use their influence to shine a light on other talented women in their field and expose more music fans to a more diverse artist offering. Lost and Found's 2019 lineup, which includes Mac and another female DJ, The Black Madonna, as a headliner is not a 50/50 gender split, but is one of the more impressive, diverse offerings for any electronic music festivals of late and is a big step in the right direction

All in all, if how we consume music is still being shaped by underlying cultural biases and what other people are listening to via streaming algorithms, then we as human beings have to create an environment that advocates for women in music and celebrates and promotes them as artists, just as we have always done for men.

Which Women Musicians Do You Think Are The Most Influential Of This Century?

Excited fans in a crowd shot at Coachella 2024
Fans at weekend one of Coachella 2024

Photo: Christina House / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

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Meet The Coachella Die-Hards: 5 Super Fans You'll Find In The Desert

It's not only influencers and celebrities heading to Indio, California. The "real Coachella" brings together people from across the country, including super fans who come year after year for the killer live show, community, and the occasional beer chug.

GRAMMYs/Apr 16, 2024 - 01:32 pm

After 25 years, Coachella is like a live music holiday. Every year, thousands of people from all walks of life descend upon the Empire Polo Club in Indio, California to enjoy artists whose music is as diverse as the crowd assembled. No matter what style anyone prefers, an artist they love is playing at Coachella.

This year alone, attendees can enjoy the classic Britpop sounds of Blur, trendy house music beats from John Summit, a reunion of the ska-punk icons, Sublime (featuring the late frontman's son, Jakob Nowell), and a headlining set from enigmatic rapper Tyler, The Creator.

Coachella also offers the opportunity for audiences to see artists they may never see elsewhere, like a rare American performance by the jazz-house master St.Germain, a shared set from the now-defunct dance music supergroup J.E.S.u.S. (Jackmaster, Eats Everything, Seth Troxler, and Skream), or pop legend Jai Paul’s first live show ever. 

Then, of course, there are the Coachella sets that will live in infamy: From Daft Punk’s debut of The Pyramid, which is largely credited with launching the popularity of electronic music in the United States, to Tupac’s resurrection in hologram, to Beyoncé's marching band of HBCU students soundtracking a reunion of Destiny’s Child.

The people of Coachella revel in these eclectic and epic offerings. Approximately 125,000 people per day touch down on the grass at the Empire Polo Club, and upwards of 100,000 have been reported to gather for a single set. And while hundreds of thousands of people are on the ground worshiping the music, 40 million people are watching the magic through YouTube, wishing they were there.

Coachella is a spectacle. So often the people who went one year bring their friends or family the next, and those people become obsessed. Others meet people at the festival and become best friends, family, and lovers — relationships born from a shared reverence for live music. 

With its massive popularity, it's easy to assume influencers and celebrities have taken over the polo grounds. A key moment in Billie Eilish’s documentary, Billie Eilish: The World's a Little Blurry, the young pop sensation meets her lifelong hero, Justin Bieber, for the first time at Coachella. But any long-time attendee will tell you, that the celebrities and influencers don’t engage with the true Coachella.

"The Kardashians are having one experience, and I’m having a different experience out in the field," says Ashton Aellarose who’s attended Coachella 12 times in eight years. "If you don’t want to be that, then you don’t see that…there’s the real Coachella for real people."

Real fans of Coachella stay all day and night, braving the heat and the dust, to engage with the epic performances and their fellow music lovers. Alaskan Alex Rodriguez creates an Artist of the Day post on the Coachella Reddit, posting every day from when the lineup drops until the festival. He flies in from the Last Frontier because Coachella provides something that other festivals simply can’t.

"Whether it be over-the-top productions, unexpected guest appearances or simply the chance to let others hear your unfamiliar sound to others, Coachella invites performances that you simply won’t see anywhere else," Rodriguez tells GRAMMY.com via email. 

Coachella’s community is built on the idea that music is the universal language. Whether you’re coming for the first time or the 25th time, whether you’re a senior citizen, a new parent, or a college kid on spring break, Coachella is a space for live music fans to celebrate what they love more than anything, and celebrate each other. GRAMMY.com spoke to five Coachella die-hards — attendees who count Coachella as an annual, important part of their year — to learn what Coachella means to them.

From Fan To Music Industry Professional: The 25-Year Attendee 

Coachella Die-Hards: 5 Fans To Meet In The Desert Josh Brooks

Josh Brooks DJing in 2011┃Josh Brooks

Name: Josh Brooks

Number of Coachellas attended: 26

Favorite set: The Chemical Brothers, 1999

Josh Brooks has attended every year of Coachella since the first edition in 1999, and credits the festival for his career in music. To date, he's worked as a booking agent, tour manager, and DJ who has played Coachella on several occasions. In 2023, he played a slot during the after-hours silent disco in the campgrounds. 

Back in 1999, Brooks had just started college at UCLA and was studying physical science, geology, and geography. He went to Coachella on a whim because tickets were $50 per day to see Rage Against The Machine, Tool, Beck, Morrissey, and the Chemical Brothers. Everything in his musical life snowballed from there. 

"[Coachella] really opened my eyes to this whole world of music that I didn’t know existed," Brooks tells GRAMMY.com. "I’ve played music my whole life. I played clarinet, trumpet, and saxophone. I was in the California Young Musicians Orchestra for a year in high school. Music has always been really important to me. But that’s where I really started to find myself musically." 

In 2011, Brooks found himself as a part of Coachella. That year, Global Inheritance — the nonprofit that organizes all of Coachella’s sustainability efforts —hosted a human-powered stage called the Energy Factory. Brooks submitted a DJ mix as part of a contest to play a slot on that stage, and he won. 

"I just played at the festival that I have been enamored with for the last 12 years. I just made a dream come true," Brooks said.

A year after that, he got laid off as a high school science teacher, and he’s been working in music ever since. Currently, he’s the booking agent and tour manager for respected house music artist Sacha Robotti, and revitalizing their SLOTHACID brand. But in between his workload, he’s still taking time for a trip to the desert for some live music. 

The Fan That Made Coachella A Family Affair

Meet The Coachella Die-Hards: A family affair

The Glazer family┃MIkey Glazer

Name: Mikey Glazer

Number of Coachellas attended:  16

Favorite set: M.I.A., 2008

Every year at Coachella, you see a handful of parents celebrating live music with their children. In fact, there are meetups for families at the festival. Among this somewhat unusual sight, you'll find Mikey Glazer and his 5-year-old son, Axwell. 

Glazer has been attending Coachella since 2003, and used to be one of the festival's more typical attendees (a 20-something attending for the party and the tunes). Now, at age 47, Coachella has become his yearly family vacation. Glazer and his wife, Melissa, brought Axwell to the festival four times: three in the flesh, and once in utero.

During the pandemic, Mikey, Melissa, and Axwell listened to music as a family. Especially electronic artists like Skrillex and Tiësto. (Axwell is also the artist moniker of one of the members of the GRAMMY-nominated electronic trio Swedish House Mafia.) When the family went to Coachella together, they saw Axwell express that love of music in full force.

"Seeing a DJ and the visuals, he just loved it. To see it through his eyes is absolutely amazing," Glazer says. "Nobody who doesn’t have kids would ever want to have a kid with them at Coachella. But when you spend every day with your kid, you’re going through new music Friday; he’s picking out songs he likes, and you listen to music together every day; when you get to Coachella, to see him enjoy it is great."

Ranking Coachella: The Fan Who Listens To Every Single Artist 

Fans inside the ferris wheel at Coachella

Brian Downing (second from right) with friends from Cincinnati┃Brian Downing

Name: Brian Downing

Number of Coachellas attended: 4

Favorite set: Madeon, 2022

For decades, Brian Downing has been ranking all the live artists he sees. He saw hundreds of artists the year he turned 50, and condensed all of them into a top 20 list.

When he comes to Coachella, he does the same thing, except instead of creating a list over the course of a year, he does it for three days. In the weeks leading up to the festival, he listens to every one of the 150 artists performing at the festival and gives them all a ranking.

"There are so many acts I don’t know going into it," Downing says. "Someone else might look at [the lineup] and go, ‘Oh my god, this is so overwhelming.’ I look at it and go, ‘Oh my god, I get to rank so many things’."

He ranks every artist on the lineup 1–10 and organizes the rankings on a spreadsheet that he shares with his friends who come to Coachella with him. A 10 is reserved for someone he is going to see, no matter what; one signifies someone he’s going to skip. That way, his group will know who they may or may not enjoy as well. 

Brian also frequently adds commentary to each artist. Here’s what he has to say about the drag-ready pop star Chappell Roan, who is performing on Friday at Coachella this year:

"I do loves me some Chapell Roan! She is an indie pop darling, and for good reason. Red Wine Supernova is an absolute bop! But she has so many other great songs too that haven't been hits yet. Don't want to miss this fun show! Side note: Remember to learn the entire H-O-T-T-O-G-O dance. You’re gonna thank me later. 10’s all day, baby! - 10."

The Fan Who Would Spend Eternity At Coachella 

Coachella Die-Hards: 5 Fans To Meet In The Desert Ashton Aellarose

At Coachella 2011┃Ashton Aellarose

Name: Ashton Aellarose

Number of Coachellas attended:  9

Favorite set: Postal Service, 2013

Throughout her life, Ashton Aellarose has lived in many places: Northern California, North Carolina, Colorado, even a few extended stints abroad. But no matter where she was residing, Aellarose would see the Coachella lineup in copies of SPIN magazine and dream of going somewhere with such vast musical offerings.

Now she’s attended nine Coachellas, and Coachella is the one place she calls home. Simply put, her life wouldn’t be the same without Coachella.

When she attended in 2014, Aellarose worked at an on-site lemonade stand. Not only did the experience lead to her working in festival vendor management for a time, but Aellarose met her best friend during her very first shift at the stand. That same friend introduced Aellarose to her boyfriend, whom she brought to Coachella for the first time last year. 

When she brought him, she showed him all the traditions she’d developed over numerous editions: Picking up last-minute camping supplies at the Wal-Mart in Indio; watching the first sunset performance of the weekend (one of her favorites was Violent Femmes in 2013); enjoying her favorite foods like the spicy pie and the arepas.

"It’s nice to have this place that’s so spiritual and consistent in such an inconsistent world," Aellarose says. "I thought it was cool when Skrillex said during the TBA set [in 2023], ‘This is the biggest party in the world right now where you’re at.’ I say that every year."

Coachella is such an important place for Aellarose, that she would like it to be her final resting place: "When I die, I want my ashes thrown around Coachella. No joke."

Creating Community With Beer & Cheer: The Fan Who Learned To Love At Coachella 

Coachella Die-Hards: 5 Fans To Meet In The Desert Joe Stamey

Joe Stamey and friend┃Joe Stamey

Name: Joe Stamey

Number of Coachellas attended: 16

Favorite set:  Beyoncé, 2018

At 1:32:14 in the Coachella documentary, Coachella: 20 Years in the Desert, Joe Stamey says:

"I come because I genuinely love music. I’ve seen more music here than I’ve seen in my entire life in other places. I see acts here that I will never see at the other festivals all over."

The filmmakers followed multiple attendees around the festival in 2019. Stamey is the only one who made it into the documentary. His love of music is a significant factor in why.

But more than his love of music, he genuinely wants everyone at Coachella to have an amazing time enjoying the live music like he does. Before our call is over, he even offers me to stay at his campsite. 

"​​I meet people that are my friends now forever because of things that I've done like that. Caring for people," Stamey says. "The festival did that to me."

Every year, Stamey organizes a beer chug at 10:40 a.m. on Friday in the campgrounds through the Coachella subreddit. Mikey Glazer (who you met above) attends every year as well. 

"It's literally just hundreds of people sitting around chugging beers at 10:40 a.m. And I just give everyone I can as big a hug as I can," Stamey says. "It’s a huge friend reunion. I run into so many people from 15 years of my life, and I love them all."

Coachella Weekend 1 Recap: 20 Surprises And Special Moments, From Billie Eilish & Lana Del Rey, To Olivia Rodrigo With No Doubt

Photo of Skepta performing at Wireless Festival on September 11, 2021, in London, England. Skepta is wearing dark black sunglasses, a black shirt, and a vest made of bullets.
Skepta performs a headline set at Wireless Festival on September 11, 2021, in London, England

Photo: Joseph Okpako/WireImage

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10 Must-See Artists At Coachella 2024: Skepta, The Last Dinner Party, Mdou Moctar, Cimafunk & More

Peso Pluma, Lana Del Rey, Doja Cat, Tyler, The Creator, J Balvin and a reunited No Doubt may be some of the biggest draws at Coachella 2024, but the beloved festival will host a multitude of must-see artists whose names appear in smaller text.

GRAMMYs/Apr 9, 2024 - 02:11 pm

Ah, springtime. For the average person, that means sunshine, flora in bloom, perhaps a figurative fresh start in the new year. But for music festival fans, it signals another season starter: Coachella.

An estimated 125,000 people will flock to the Empire Polo Fields in Indio, California for the first weekend (April 12-14) of the 23rd Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. While the first weekend is already sold out, tickets are still available for the second weekend (April 19-21).

Coachella's headliners have been busy: Both Lana Del Rey (headlining Friday) and Doja Cat (slated to close out Sunday) just wrapped extensive tours at the end of 2023 and, while Saturday closer Tyler, the Creator's only other 2024 festival date is at Lollapalooza, he did stage a large-scale appearance in 2023 at the Camp Flog Gnaw Carnival in Los Angeles. Still, it stands to reason that there are scores of fans who missed out on those tour stops, and Coachella would be an ideal chance to catch them in a particularly special setting. 

There's also the potential to see a slew of surprise guests (a long-standing Chella tradition) and much-hyped reunions. Coachella 2024 attendees will likely flock to see a reunited No Doubt and Sublime, the latter with a Nowell back at the helm (Bradley’s son, Jakob).

Then there’s the economic logic behind opting to see those bigger acts at a festival: for a price not much more than what you’d pay for an arena ticket, you get the bonus of catching dozens of other incredible artists while you’re at it. The diversity and quality of music throughout even the lower tiers of the Coachella lineup is staggering, so overall the price for a pass is quite the steal. Read on for the inside scoop on 10 of this year’s most exciting undercard performances.

Read More: Music Festivals 2024 Guide: Lineups & Dates For Lollapalooza, Coachella, Bonnaroo & Much More

Cimafunk

Cuban artist Cimafunk has been relatively quiet since releasing a third studio album, El Alimento, in 2021. But the success of that record — which garnered his first GRAMMY nomination for Best Latin Rock or Alternative album at the 2023 GRAMMY Awards — appears to have propelled him to new career heights. He will be the first Cuban-born artist to perform at the festival, kicking off a string of worldwide shows that begin with his appearance at Coachella on April 12 and 19. 

Read more: At Getting Funky In Havana, Young Musicians Feel The Power Of Cross-Cultural Connection

Cimafunk’s sole release since his last album was the December 2023 single “Te tango en salsa,” which expands upon his self-designated brand of Afro Cuban Funk with accents of disco and grooves filled with New Orleans-style horns. Though the track hasn’t been publicly connected to any upcoming EP or album, one might presume that his impending run of concerts is a precursor to a complete body of new music. Perhaps Coachella will function as a testing ground, and considering the inclusion on El Ailmento of prominent artists George Clinton, CeeLo Green and Lupe Fiasco, who knows what other surprises might be in store at the desert festival known for delighting audiences with plenty of guest features.

L’Imperatrice

Through the years following their inception in 2012, French pop band L’Imperatrice have played primarily in Europe and surrounding regions, so it’s no small feat that they’re poised to make their second appearance at Coachella in two years. They first played the fest in 2022, a makeup show for Coachella's 2020 COVID-19 cancellation. 

Their slots on April 12 and 19, stops on their just-launched Double Trouble Tour, follow the 2018 release of debut full-length Matahari and performances at prominent festivals like Austin City Limits and Outside Lands. Self-produced sophomore album Pulsar arrives on June 7, and its infectiously groovy and sensual debut single “Me Da Iqual” promises a Coachella set sure to incite emotional release among the masses — ideally during one of the fest’s famed golden hours to match the music’s euphoric vibes. 

Skepta

Regarded as one of the most influential rappers in the UK grime scene, Skepta is set to commence his latest return to stateside stages with appearances at Coachella on both Fridays, which marks his second time at the festival after lauded dual appearances in 2017. 

Following a semi-secret DJ set at Austin’s South by Southwest festival in March, these shows will preview a run of summer dates in the UK and Europe and the release of upcoming sixth solo album Knife and Fork

With that record’s release date still in question but imminent, it’s a good bet that he’ll introduce new material to build upon the January drop of lead single "Gas Me Up (Diligent)," which adopts a flow and melodic structure more akin to popular American rap. To that end, Skepta’s previous collaborations with U.S. rappers like Drake, Ye and members of ASAP Mob could lead to a loaded lineup of guests during his Coachella set. It has the potential to be a huge moment, though his reputation for high-energy and rowdy gigs are reasons enough to prioritize his performance. 

Read More: UK Drill Is An International Sensation. Will It Be Censored To Death?

Mandy, Indiana

English-French noise rock upstarts Mandy, Indiana make music that isn’t necessarily easy to digest. Minimalist and chaotic compositions, primarily from their widely celebrated 2023 debut album I’ve Seen a Way, resonate as tunes tailor-made for technically minded music nerds. Still, danceable moments emerge among the sonic helter-skelter, which combines experimental elements of industrial, classic house music and samples aplenty (think Death Grips with more palatable melodies and exclusively French lyrics). 

So far, the dynamic four-piece hasn’t played much on this side of the pond — their debut shows at Coachella arrive on the heels of a handful of U.S. appearances in 2023 that included the SXSW Music Festival. Which means Mandy, Indiana’s sets on April 13 and 20 will mark relatively rare (and therefore must-see) chances to embrace their overtly wonderful weirdness in the desert among the more prominent pop-leaning artists on the roster.

The Last Dinner Party

If you’re not yet keen on British indie rock band the Last Dinner Party, it’s time to get with the program. With only one album under their belt, Prelude to Ecstasy (released Feb. 2) — which echoes various influences ranging from Siouxsie and the Banshees to Kate Bush and ABBA —the quintet has already earned multiple awards and accolades, including topping the UK Album Chart. To boot, they opened for the Rolling Stones in London’s Hyde Park two years prior to putting out their record.

The band’s performances are reportedly jaw-dropping, further evidenced by the complete sell-out of their current U.S. tour. That jaunt wraps with their April 20 appearance at Coachella (they also play during the first weekend on April 13), so, unless you want to pay ridiculous resale prices for one of their club shows, this is a prime chance to see them live with the added benefit of catching many more amazing acts while you’re there.

Young Fathers

Young Fathers are often categorized under the umbrella of hip-hop, but it would be wrong to pigeonhole them that way. True, one can pinpoint elements of a spitting, old-school style — especially on debut album Dead (winner of the prestigious Mercury Prize in 2014.. However, their sound spans the landscape of many genres, often weaving in threads of electronic, industrial, and trip-hop. It should be telling that they’ve collaborated multiple times with Massive Attack.

The music clearly resonates with a substantial audience. They’ve reached prime positions on the UK Album charts, their fourth and latest album Heavy Heavy (released Feb. 3, 2023) won them their third Scottish Album of the Year Award, and this year marks their second invitation to Coachella (catch them on Sundays: April 13 and 20). With a full year gone since putting out new songs, there’s no telling if they’ll serve up anything fresh. Regardless, fans of heavy-hitting experimental music, assuredly energizing at any time of day or night, should prioritize seeing their set.

Oneohtrix Point Never

It’s a wonder that Oneohtrix Point Never has never played Coachellal until now given his string of consistent releases since emerging in the early 2000s (with never more than three years between albums) and Coachella’s penchant for historically championing experimental electronic artists. Following the Feb. 29 release of his latest EP “Oneohtrix Point Never - Ambients,” he debuts in the desert on April 13, with his second weekend encore on April 20. 

The Massachusetts-bred beatmaker’s music swings from sparse to compositionally complex. It's not geared toward a typical EDM dance party, but always cinematic and hypnotizing, creating a space where listeners can truly lose themselves in the sonics. Given his style, it’s safe to assume he’ll occupy an evening time slot, so if you’re the type who prefers something a little more raw to the mainstream big-timers topping the bill, Oneohtrix Point Never might be just the ticket.

Mdou Moctar

If there’s one artist on this year’s Coachella lineup that will truly thrive in a desert setting, it’s Mdou Moctar. The Niger-based musician plays rock music steeped in the style of Tuareg, guitar-based blues-rock fusion that originates in the Sahara region. However, Moctar’s music decidedly transcends the traditional sound, often reverberating as sublimely psychedelic.

His performances in Indio on April 14 and 21 precede the release of his sixth album Funeral For Justice (arriving May 3). Based on the two singles made available from that record so far (title track “Funeral for Justice” and “Imouhar”), the people of Coachella are in for a true desert trip.

Atarashii Gakko!

When Japanese “girl group” Atarashii Gakko! make their Coachella debut on April 14 and 21, anticipate the unexpected. The four singers’ have a stated goal of “redefining what it means to be a girl group.” They’re technically categorized as J-Pop, but among the many catchy choruses, their music also incorporates shades of speed metal, trap beats and alt-rap à la Rage Against the Machine, all of which you can hear on their latest album ICHIJIKIKOKU.

What you can certainly expect is an outrageously high-energy show chock-full of nonstop, self-designed choreography performed in colorful sailor-fuku uniforms (essentially sailor suits worn by Japanese students in the ‘70s and ‘80s … think Sailor Moon but intentionally less provocative). If you need an adrenaline boost on the final day of the fest, look no further than Atarashii Gakko!.

Olivia Dean

Dear America, it’s time to give a proper welcome to an artist destined for stardom:  Olivia Dean. With only a handful of U.S. shows in the bank, the 25-year-old British neo-soul singer’s debut at Coachella on April 14 — arguably her biggest U.S. gig yet — will serve as the most well-deserved of receptions. 

Sure, her nominations for the 2023 Mercury Prize (for debut album Messy) and 2024 Brit Awards (Best Pop Act, British Artist of the Year and Best New Artist) should merit attention enough for those who don’t know her. But even a few moments of listening to key album tracks “Dive” and “The Hardest Part” (don’t sleep on the alternate version featuring Leon Bridges) are the real deal-sealers. The richness of Dean’s recorded vocals are absolutely arresting, evocative of and equal to top-tier divas who preceded her. It’s thrilling just thinking about the impact she’ll make at Coachella — do yourself a favor if you have the chance and go witness it firsthand. 

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Berlin lead singer Terri Nunn performs in the middle of the crowd at the Lost Boys stage at Cruel World Festival at Brookside at the Rose Bowl, on Sat., May 20, 2023.
Berlin lead singer Terri Nunn performs at Cruel World Festival in 2023.

Photo: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

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10 Smaller Music Festivals Happening In 2024: La Onda, Pitchfork Music Fest, Cruel World & More

Beyond Coachella and Lollapalooza are a wealth of well-produced American festivals that keep people coming back for their down-home vibes and stacked lineups. Read on for 10 beloved smaller festivals that offer an alternative to major events.

GRAMMYs/Apr 8, 2024 - 01:21 pm

Music festival season doesn’t begin or end with Coachella. Festival fever brings millions of revelers to and across the United States annually for events that cater to every taste, style, and budget.

While Coachella, with its big-name lineups and a magnet for celebrities and influencers, often takes the lion's share of press and social media attention, plenty of smaller festivals equally capture the hearts of attendees who make it a tradition to return year after year.

2024 introduces an exciting array of new music festivals across the U.S., many highlighted in our guide below. Whether you want to see your long-time favorites or discover fresh music acts, there’s a ton of talent to consider. Beyond the music, these festivals offer top-notch people watching and other experiential joys that make this kind of creative and communal culture important to people across generations and backgrounds.

Sol Blume

May 3-5, Sacramento, California

California’s state capital is home to the now three-day Sol Blume, a festival so laid back that its mascot is a skeleton chilling on its side, throwing up a peace sign. This year’s Sol Blume is headlined by Snoh Aalegra, SZA and Kaytraminé (producer Kaytranada and singer Aminé). 

It’s still at Discovery Park, but now Sol Blume is a day longer than last year’s event, the stages are bigger and there are more food and drink options. There’s also a dedicated wellness area, with daily yoga classes, meditation sessions, and tension release workshops — should you get a little bit too worked up by the whole mass musical experience.

Lovers & Friends

May 4, Las Vegas, Nevada

Once again, Lovers & Friends is set to bring a monster lineup representing the heights of ‘90s R&B, hip-hop, pop, and boy bands to Las Vegas for the third time. It’s hard to overstate the megawatt, dream team, TRL-like quality of this festival. After all, headliners Janet Jackson, Usher, Backstreet Boys and Gwen Stefani have all carried arena tours on their own.

Like many of its single-day festival colleagues around the country, the Lovers & Friends lineup appears to fit what could be at least a couple days of performances into just one, so there may be schedule conflicts that prevent attendees from seeing all of the sets that they might want to enjoy.

Cruel World

May 11, Pasadena, California

A family-friendly, all-ages music festival with a predilection for nostalgia with a dark edge, Cruel World returns to the world-famous Rose Bowl’s Brookside golf course for the third year. This year’s fest features a top billing performance from Duran Duran, plus appearances by Interpol, Blondie, Simple Minds, Placebo, Soft Cell and Adam Ant. The latter rescheduled from last year’s canceling due to a health matter, so he’s just as anticipated as the top acts this year.

Speaking of 2023, a freak electrical storm cut several performances short last year, and a bonus makeup event was held the next night with Iggy Pop and Siouxsie Sioux. The skies should be kinder this year, and those who don’t get their musical fill can return to the same spot the following weekend for a festival called Just Like Heaven with The Postal Service, Death Cab for Cutie, Phoenix and more.

Movement

May 25-27, Detroit, Michigan

Launched in 2000 as the Detroit Electronic Music Festival and renamed in 2003, Movement remains the world’s pre-eminent event dedicated to techno music, a style created in Detroit and imitated all over the world. This year’s event features VIP pop-ups, classic record label showcases and veteran artists from Detroit and beyond such as Kevin Saunderson, Stacey Pullen, Delano Smith, Masters At Work, Richie Hawtin, Fatboy Slim and. . . Ludacris? Sure, why not — there’s always a hip-hop twist or three happening here, too.

Movement is still the best time to be in Detroit each year in order to celebrate the musical innovations of the city. Beyond the festival, there are a host of official and unofficial afterparties and alternatives to check out. Some people travel to the area to party and never even make it to the main festival, for all the other events happening at all hours.

La Onda

June 1-2, Napa, California

This year, a brand new festival La Onda will debut the weekend after the annual BottleRock festival at Napa Valley Expo with the same event producers. La Onda’s music headliners are Maná, Fuerza Regida, Alejandro Fernández and Junior H. The other acts booked represent a wide variety of Latinx sounds, including regional Mexican, Spanish rock, Latin pop, reggaetón, mariachi, rap, norteño and cumbia.

Read more: 11 New Music Festivals To Attend In 2024: No Values, We Belong Here & More

The Napa Valley Expo is big enough to hold such a large festival with different stages, but it’s not too exhausting to walk back and forth between the areas. And BottleRock amenities like the silent disco, spa treatments, and adult refreshments will be there for La Onda guests to check out as well. 

Roots Picnic

June 1-2 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The annual Roots Picnic takes place in Philadelphia, the original home of The Roots, and is always a passionate tribute to the City of Brotherly Love (see last year’s highlights). This year, there will also be a big tribute to New Orleans performed by Lil Wayne, Trombone Shorty, PJ Morton and more. 

The festival lineup, which is curated by the band, features musical friends like Jill Scott, Nas, and Victoria Monét as well as a special performance by André 3000, who has been touring the country playing improvisational, flute-led music inspired by his recent solo album New Blue Sun. Tickets to that show alone have been tough to get on other dates, and it’s part of the glorious Roots Picnic.

Pitchfork Music Festival

July 19-21, Chicago, Illinois

Chicago’s Union Park has been home to the three-day Pitchfork Music Festival since its inception in 2011. The annual event, an extension of the acclaimed music publication, attracts about 60,000 people — see the standout sets from last year to get a good idea of the diversity of this mainstay. Artists bringing the heat this year include Black Pumas, Jamie XX, Alanis Morissette, De La Soul, Brittany Howard, Grandmaster Flash and Carly Rae Jepsen

Pitchfork Music Festival is a scorching experience for more than its hot lineup — you can also expect high summer temperatures in the Windy City. Pitchfork’s editorial staff was recently reduced and merged into the men’s magazine GQ by Condé Nast, so the festival’s future shouldn’t be taken for granted.

Fool in Love

Aug. 31, Inglewood, California

Like Lovers & Friends, people questioned whether this new one-day fest’s heavy-hitting R&B and old-school soul lineup was fake when it was first released. Lionel Richie and Diana Ross take the top tier of the flier, followed by Nile Rodgers & Chic, Al Green, Santana, Charlie Wilson and Gladys Knight. And this festival has more levels of enduring talent booked, including stages headlined by George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic and Clinton’s hero, Smokey Robinson

It’s been criticized on social media for booking bands that may not have many or any surviving original members, but that has been a very standard part of certain touring legacy acts for decades. Both the multi-generational lineup and the people-watching promise to be legendary.

Bumbershoot

Aug. 31- Sept. 1, Seattle, Washington

An all-ages event that began back in 1973, Bumbershoot is one of the country’s staple music and arts festivals. After beginning as an independently-produced fest, AEG Live ran it for four years until 2019. Bumbershoot was relaunched in 2023 by Third Stone and New Rising Sun with Seattle Center, the expansive indoor/outdoor venue where it still takes place.

Last year’s 50th anniversary event brought music acts like Brittany Howard, Sleater-Kinney, Jawbreaker and the Descendents. This year’s music lineup will be announced in May, and a full slate of visual programming and activities such a half pipe skateboard program, roller skating and even pole dancing are on the official website now.

Music at the Intersection

Sept. 14-15, St. Louis, Missouri

Music at the Intersection in St. Louis celebrates the lineage that exists between blues, jazz, soul, rap, R&B and rock, and where that takes us into the future. Hosted by Kranzberg Arts Foundation, this year’s edition of the ambitious two-day, all-ages festival features a stacked lineup of talent including Chaka Khan, Big Boi, Black Pumas, Esperanza Spalding and Samara Joy. There’s even a Gospel Brunch on Sunday in partnership with the Gospel Music Hall of Fame.

As you may have noticed now, music festivals are thriving around the country in 2024! Wherever your flavor of fest takes you this year, may it be safe, fun, and offer the thrills of familiarity, discovery, and friendship.

Music Festivals 2024 Guide: Lineups & Dates For Lollapalooza, Coachella, Bonnaroo & Much More

Coachella 2023
A crowd listens to Vintage Culture perform at Coachella on Friday, April 14, 2023 in Coachella Valley, CA

Photo: Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

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11 New Music Festivals To Attend In 2024: No Values, We Belong Here & More

2024 is replete with legacy festivals, like Coachella and Lollapalooza, that are still going strong. But when constructing your itinerary, don’t miss these first-year festivals with a lot of promise.

GRAMMYs/Apr 2, 2024 - 03:31 pm

South by Southwest might be in the rearview, but festival season is firmly upon us. Soon, genre-crossing, culture-shaking bashes from Lollapalooza to Bonnaroo — and, of course, Coachella — will be underway and flooding your feed. GRAMMY.com will be on the case, screaming along with fans nationwide.

But what of the brand new festivals — ones readying their inaugural iteration, primed to establish their identities on the circuit? When plotting your fest schedule, don't leave them out: these new events have the potential to become behemoths themselves. Yes, Coachella will be amazing, but these lower-key upstarts are special in their own way. 

Read on for 11 new music festivals happening across the country and across the genre spectrum.

New West Coast Music Festival

Riverside, California
April 12, 2024
More info
here

West coast hip-hop lovers who want a one-and-done day of music: New West Coast Music Festival may be for you. At the Riverside Municipal Auditorium on April 12, hip-hop heavies like 03 Greedo, Bravo the Bagchaser, Bluebucks Clan, and many more will touch down, with DJ Trill, Cypress Moreno and DJ V.I.P. holding it down on the turntables.

Landlock Music Festival

Waco, Texas
May 3-5, 2024
More info
here

Waco may be a landlocked city in McLennan County, Texas, but you can still splash around — with some terrific music to boot. Landlock Music Festival is the first-ever Texas music festival to take place in a waterpark. As the festival runners are quick to point out, "It's not a festival, it's an experience" — which connotes the plethora of other activities other than just music. Not only can you enjoy the full waterpark and music from Shakey Graves, Midland, Young the Giant and more; there's also yoga and horseback riding. Landlocked or not, Waco's a dynamic place — and it's about to get more.

Lovin' Life Music Fest

Charlotte, North Carolina
May 3-5, 2024
More info
here

If eclecticism is your brand, you're about to be Lovin' Life. In the first week of May, in Charlotte, North Carolina, artists as divergent as Post Malone, Stevie Nicks and Noah Kahan will blow your mind. As inaugural, marquee, multi-day fests go, Lovin' Life has a lot of firepower, with artists like Maggie Rogers, the Chainsmokers and Dashboard Confessional rounding out the proceedings. If you've got room in your listening habits for both the Avett Brothers and DaBaby, bomb out to Charlotte!

Riverbeat Music Festival

Memphis, Tennessee
May 3-5, 2024
More info
here

Also in early May, kick back and relax with something strong, and enjoy some top-shelf, roots-adjacent sounds. Down in Memphis, the Fugees, Odesza and Jelly Roll will headline this three-day festival, aimed at attracting Memphians and out-of-town music heads to this great music city. The city's newly designed riverfront park acts as the perfect venue for this eclectic, forward-thinking lineup — whether you're into sounds as intense as Killer Mike, or as tranquil as Matt and Kim.

Gazebo Festival

Louisville, Kentucky
May 25-26, 2024
More info
here

Founded by the one and only Jack Harlow — a six-time GRAMMY nominee — Gazebo Festival is another altogether refreshing and worthy choice for your festival season. SZA, James Blake, Omar Apollo, and 23 other sluggers will take the plate; Gazebo will be held on two stages, and augmented by local Louisville food and culture, on more than 85 acres of green space along the Ohio River.

TwoGether Land Festival

Dallas, Texas
May 25-26, 2024
More info
here

On the sprawling plot of land that is Fair Park — a 277-acre complex that hosts more than 1,000 activities every year — Texans will be treated to TwoGether Land Festival. The brainchild of One Musicfest, advertised as "promoting togetherness and unity through music," TwoGether Land is a glorious salute to hip-hop, with everyone from Lil Wayne to Gucci Mane to Three 6 Mafia rocking the mic. 

The 50th anniversary of hip-hop may have come and gone, but that energy hasn't gone anywhere. Twogether or apart, don't miss this riotous, dynamic festival.

La Onda

Napa, California
June 1 & 2, 2024
More info
here

Presented by the team that puts on BottleRock Napa Valley — a five-day event in California's wine country — La Onda is a brand-new Latin music fest, coming to Napa in June. With savvy and inspired choices of headliners Alejandro Fernandez and Junior H (June 1) and Maná and Fuerza Regida (June 2), it's bound to be a Latin celebration to remember. 

But La Onda doesn't just offer musical delights; you can decompress in the spa, blow off steam in the dance club, or dance to tunes of your choice in the silent disco. Plus, with Latin cuisine and boutique beverages, La Onda is bound to be a culinary immersion unlike any other on the circuit.

No Values

Pomona, California
June 8, 2024
More info
here

Are you twisted? We're twisted. No Values is for everyone twisted, of every background and creed. Come for legacy acts, like The Original Misfits, Social Distortion and Iggy Pop; stay for relative upstarts who broke through and changed the conversation, like Turnstile and a reconstituted Power Trip. 

Speaking of reconstitution: Sublime will be there, with Jakob Nowell on the mic and guitar — his birthright, as he's original leader Bradley Nowell's only son. The rest of the lineup is bubbly and hip — brain-scramblers like the Jesus Lizard next to more straight-shooting acts like Joyce Manor. Get your battle jacket dry-cleaned, or not: Pomona's in for a hell of a ride.

Minnesota Yacht Club

St. Paul, Minnesota
July 19-20, 2024
More info
here

Nineties kids rise. At Harriet Island Regional Park along the beautiful Mississippi River, '90s radio giants from Gwen Stefani and Alanis Morrisette to the Red Hot Chili Peppers will take the stage. It's not all "throwback," though; newer acts like Gary Clark Jr. and the Hold Steady are headed to the Midwest to rock with the MTV heroes. (The festival is produced by C3 Presents, who produces Austin City Limits Music Festival and Lollapalooza — so take that under advisement as to the quality control of Mississippi Yacht Club.)

Thing Festival

Carnation, Washington
Aug. 9-11, 2024
More info
here

A refreshing array of multi-genre talent will be headed to Remlinger Farms in Carnation, Washington, this August. Billed as "an eclectic and intimate three-day festival of music and arts," and described by The Seattle Times as "a family-friendly festival that hangs its sun hat on strong top-to-bottom lineups." 

Thing Festival prizes strong curation, abundant diversity, and a welcoming environment. Bands as bludgeoning and melodic as Militarie Gun will rub shoulders with electronic greats like Toro y Moi, with zero friction.

Fool In Love

Los Angeles, California
Aug. 31, 2024
More info
here

When you think of timeless love songs, who comes to mind? Lionel Richie? Diana Ross? Smokey Robinson? Another thing they all have in common: they're all playing at the inaugural Fool In Love festival this summer in Los Angeles, with newer groups like Thee Sacred Souls and Durand Jones in the mix.

That's not all, though. So many others, many staples of Black music, will be making us swoon. From Gladys Knight to the Isley Brothers to Chaka Khan, the lineup for Fool in Love looks less like a night out than a trip through music history — and the most universal and versatile topic of song, hands down.

Music Festivals 2024 Guide: Lineups & Dates For Lollapalooza, Coachella, Bonnaroo & Much More