Musicians, note: Is Soul’d Out lawsuit over Coachella reasonable?

Coachella 2018

The morning news brought an update on a legal case dating to 2018 regarding a contract related to Coachella policy. Originally tossed, the case is now back in play. We should ask ourselves if the overturn was a good idea.

Is Soul’d Out’s case reasonable?

Personally, I don’t think it is.

New Musical Express explained the basis for the dispute between Soul’d Out and Coachella:

“[The] Coachella contract…stipulates that artists who are booked to play at Coachella cannot play at any other North American festival between December 15 and May 1.”

Soul’d Out believes this contract disadvantages their ability to book musicians for their own concerts. In other words, Coachella’s contract enables “unlawful competition.”

US District (Oregon) Court Judge Michael Mosman tossed the lawsuit. Now an appellate court has overturned Mosman. I’ve disagreed with at least one decision Mosman, a George W. Bush appointee, made but on this one, I am inclined to agree with him.


No one makes a musician sign a contract. It’s a voluntary process, and if there is a disagreement about the stipulations in the contract, the musician along with his agent/manager/whoever should be able to decide for himself or herself.

This case is a reminder to musicians that you don’t have to toe anyone’s line but your own. A lot of contracts for both freelance writing and music have crossed my desk. If there’s anything in a contract you can’t live with, ask if the clause or stipulation can be removed.

If it can’t be, don’t sign the contract.

**Featured photo credit: Coachella, 2018 by  Raph_PH; License link:

(Kay B. Day/May 13, 2020)

Hawk on fence
Photo by Rebecca Day (The Crazy Daysies)


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