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Bill Gates warned Coachella about the threat of a pandemic to its business years ago

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coachella 2019
Coachella Music and Arts Festival 2019. Amy Harris/Invision/AP
  • Bill Gates met with Coachella's co-founder years before the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, the LA Times reports.

  • Gates warned of the threat a pandemic could have on the annual music and arts festival.

  • Tollett told the paper "he was right."

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Bill Gates warned a pandemic could upend one of the US' most popular music festivals years before COVID-19 took over.

Paul Tollett, the founder of concert promotion firm Goldenvoice and co-founder of Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, told The Los Angeles Times about a meeting "about five years ago" when he gave Gates a tour of the music festival.

Gates shared his interest in the company, but he felt the need to give some advice.

"He goes, 'I've been following the show for a while. I think it can last forever.' I think, 'Oh, that's so great. I'm so happy,'" Tollett told the LA Times. "And he says, 'Except for...' and he names a whole bunch of things, and 'pandemic' was one of them. And I'm like, 'Wow, you're a buzzkill.' But he was right."

Tollet hadn't considered the possibilities of such a catastrophic event, saying to the LA Times "we didn't have insurance. So what we lost, we lost."

That loss, of course, is the cancellation of the Coachella music fest in 2020. The arts and music festival was set to feature big headliners like Frank Ocean, Travis Scott, and Rage Against the Machine when the COVID-19 pandemic broke, causing the event to be canceled.

But the festival is making a comeback in April 2022 with Ocean as a headliner, as many fans await a performance from the Grammy award-winning artist. The festival is set to take place on April 15-17 and April 22-24, 2022.

It's unclear whether Coachella attendees will have to follow COVID-19 precautions like proof of vaccinations or mask mandates. The LA Times says that Goldenvoice currently doesn't require vaccinations or tests, but attendees for Lollapalooza in Chicago this past weekend were required to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test three days before the concert.

"I don't want to force it too soon. I'd rather wait," Tollett told the LA Times. "You'll never remember that you had to wait, but you'll remember if you went to a really bad event."

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