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Woodstock 50 will still go ahead insist organisers, but artists say their contracts are void

By | Published on Thursday 2 May 2019

Woodstock 50

Woodstock co-founder Michael Lang has insisted that he will still put on the 50th anniversary edition of the event later this year. This follows a key investor announcing the cancellation of the event earlier this week. However, as well as its financial backing, it has now emerged that the event may also be lacking artists to perform.

Amplifi Live, a division of marketing group the Dentsu Aegis Network, was one of the festival’s backers, and it announced on Monday that “despite our tremendous investment of time, effort and commitment, we don’t believe the production of the festival can be executed as an event worthy of the Woodstock brand name while also ensuring the health and safety of the artists, partners and attendees. As a result and after careful consideration, Dentsu Aegis Network’s Amplifi Live, a partner of Woodstock 50, has decided to cancel the festival”.

But Lang’s Woodstock company then put out a statement saying that Dentsu had no right to cancel the event and that it would all still go ahead as planned. “Although our financial partner is withdrawing, we will of course be continuing with the planning of the festival and intend to bring on new partners”, it said. It also emerged that Live Nation and AEG had been approached as possible alternative backers, but had seemingly declined to get involved.

“Woodstock never belonged to Dentsu, so they don’t have a right to cancel it”, Lang then insisted. “Woodstock belongs to the people and it always will”.

Before you start looking around for the Woodstock shares you forgot you had, the name is actually owned by Woodstock Ventures, ie the company headed by Lang. However, who controls the 50th anniversary event is a matter of some confusion.

According to Billboard, booking agents for two of the festival’s headliners have said that Dentsu withdrawing its involvement voids their contracts. Another agent with a number of artists booked to play the event then explained: “The artist contracts are with Dentsu, not with Michael Lang or Woodstock 50”.

It is now not clear if those artist contracts will be honoured anyway, or if Woodstock Ventures has held any discussions with agents on the matter. But having some artists booked would probably make for a better celebration of the event’s 50th anniversary. And having some money to pay said artists would be even better.