What is going on with Woodstock 50?? There have been signs of problems with the festival for some time with artists pulling out, permits not being given and more, but it is still alive. An investor pulled out of the event three weeks ago and tried to unilaterally cancel the event. The issue went to court and Woodstock 50 is still going ahead, but the major investor, Japanese company Denstu Aegis Network, which owns event production company Amplifi Live, will be able to keep their $17.8 million.
Sounds simple, but how did we get here? Woodstock 50 was announced early this year with the lineup featuring the likes of Miley Cyrus, Jay-Z, Santana, The Killers, Dead & Company and Chance The Rapper all slated to perform. Then at the end of April, things started to unravel. The festival couldn’t put tickets on sale because they didn’t have the right permits and New York state law outlaws you from selling tickets without the right permits. Then Dentsu unilaterally canceled the festival, citing concerns over logistics and safety. It soon became clear they didn’t have the power to cancel the festival on their own, but by pulling their money out, put Woodstock in serious jeopardy.
Woodstock sued and New York Supreme Court Justice Barry Ostrager decided the case yesterday. He ruled that Dentsu couldn’t cancel the festival unilaterally, but they could also take their money and run.
“Multiple permits necessary to conduct the Festival were not in place, tickets had not yet been sold, no budget had been agreed upon, necessary and expensive structural improvements to the Festival site and related areas had not yet started, and the production company essential to produce the Festival had withdrawn,” Ostrager wrote in his decision (via Billboard.)
Michael Lang, the lead public face putting on the event, called this a victory for Woodstock.
"We have always relied on the truth and have never lost faith that the Festival would take place," Lang said in a statement to Billboard. "I would like to thank all of the talent and their representatives for their patience and support. Woodstock 50 will be an amazing and inspiring festival experience."
Now how will Woodstock go forward? There is still the possibility of ongoing litigation, but Woodstock may have to decide if they want to spend their money on lawyers or the actual festival and deal with Dentsu later.
Superfly, who was hired to produce the festival had some doubts about the safety of the event, reportedly telling Dentsu and Lang that 65,000 would have to be the max capacity, not 150,000.
Now Lang and investor Greg Peck need to likely raise $20-30 million, if not more, to get the right permits and put on the event. At this late juncture in the game, that could be very difficult with Live Nation and AEG staying away. Whether or not the artists will show up to this circus is another problem. It wouldn't be Woodstock if there were massive problems!
Woodstock 50 is scheduled to take place August 16-18 in Watkins Glenn, NY.