Investors Say Woodstock 50 Music Festival Is Canceled — Founders Disagree

Apr 30, 2019

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Tickets were supposed to go on sale last week. But with less than four months until bands were expected to take the stage for Woodstock 50, the music festival has allegedly been canceled after investors pulled their financial backing on Monday, citing concerns over event management competency.

Billed as a 50th anniversary revival of the namesake festival, Woodstock 50 was scheduled for Aug. 16 to 18 in Watkins Glen, New York, about 150 miles from the original 1969 location. Michael Lang, one of the co-founders of the original Woodstock festival, was involved in planning the 2019 event as well. An intergenerational lineup of performers across all genres were supposed to perform at the 2019 reboot, from Jay-Z, Miley Cyrus and Maggie Rogers to David Crosby, John Fogerty, Santana, Chance the Rapper and dozens more.

Dentsu Aegis Network, the organization bankrolling Woodstock 50, told Billboard investors did not believe the festival would be, “an event worthy of the Woodstock Brand name while also ensuring the health and safety of the artists, partners and attendees,” adding that the difficult decision to cancel the festival was “the most prudent” course of action “for all parties involved.”

There have been multiple indications that Woodstock 50, which has already invested $30 million into the event, did not have all its affairs in order. When the event was initially announced in January, organizers promised that tickets would go on sale later in the month, while the artist lineup would be announced in February. After both of those deadlines passed with no further details, the Woodstock 50 team missed yet another ticket release date promised when April 22 came and went.

And despite Dentsu’s announcement on Monday, the Woodstock 50 website remained live as of Tuesday evening, cheerily counting down, “107 days until Woodstock returns.”

According to Billboard, Woodstock 50 organizers reached out to major industry giants Live Nation and AEG as recently as last week to discuss the possibility of a $20 million cash injection. Both brands declined the offer.

TPG reached out to both Woodstock 50 and Dentsu Aegis for comment, but did not receive a response in time for publication. But festival organizers responded strongly to the cancellation news, saying, “Woodstock 50 is currently on a call with Dentsu and Woodstock 50 vehemently denies the cancellation of the festival and will be seeking legal remedy to the comments.”

Original festival founder Lang was among those saying saying the festival would in fact prevail, and bring on new backers in Dentsu’s stead.

“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,” said Lang in a joint statement released with Woodstock LLC. “The bottom line is, there is going to be a Woodstock 50th Anniversary Festival, as there must be, and it’s going to be a blast.”

Yet either way, there will in fact be a music festival commemorating the 50th anniversary of Woodstock. A competing anniversary music festival is already scheduled to proceed as planned during the same weekend. The Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, located at the site of the original 1969 Woodstock festival, is hosting, “a season of song and celebration” in honor of the music festival’s golden anniversary. Featured performers for this event include Ringo Starr, Santana, the Doobie Brothers and John Fogerty, and tickets are in fact available through the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts website.

Featured photo courtesy of Shutterstock, depicting the original 1969 festival location in its current-day state. 

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