Woodstock 50 Artists No Longer Contractually Obligated to Perform
The soap opera of Woodstock 50 continues to play out. Despite the announcement from financial backers that the festival has been canceled, founder Michael Lang insists the event “will take place and will be a blast!”
In an interview with The New York Times, Lang admitted that the anniversary event would need to find new investors, but insisted he already has potential financial partners who are “anxious to come in.”
Dentsu Aegis Network, Woodstock 50’s original primary investor, pulled its involvement with the event over concerns regarding “the health and safety of the artists, partners and attendees.” In doing so, the Japan-based company announced the festival as canceled, something Lang referred to as “mind-boggling.”
“The surprising thing was that they didn’t give us a heads up, or call, or say, ‘We’d like to back away, can you replace us?’" Lang explained. “It was just a surprise.”
Part of Lang's damage control includes hiring lawyer Marc E. Kasowitz — who also represents President Donald Trump — as legal support. The attorney immediately issued a statement saying that Dentsu did not have the right to cancel the festival and instructed “all stakeholders, including the entertainers” to proceed as planned.
Meanwhile, Lang believes the existence of “potential sponsors” and progress with permitting has put his group in a position the right the Woodstock 50 ship. “We have a short window to put this back together," he noted. "That’s obvious. We feel it’s enough time, and there is enough interest, that we think we will accomplish it.”
While Lang’s statements give hope that Woodstock 50 still has life, a report from Billboard paints a bleaker picture.
"The artist contracts are with Dentsu, not with Michael Lang or Woodstock 50," an agent with artists booked for the event revealed. If this is accurate, Dentsu’s withdrawal from the event would release performers from any obligation to appear. Dead and Company, the Killers, Santana, Jay-Z, Imagine Dragons, Greta Van Fleet and Robert Plant were among the many artists initially included in the Woodstock 50 lineup.
Even as Lang presses forward with his plans, industry insiders question his ability to turn things around. "We're not even going to have a discussion with Lang until we see that every permit needed for this event has been secured," said one artist agency that represented several acts scheduled to play the festival. "I'd also like to hear how he plans to convince fans to buy tickets for an event that's been already canceled."
Indeed, in a post-Fyre Festival environment, music lovers are more cautious than ever when forking over their money to attend an event. To that end, Lang said he’s committed to winning back trust. “The best way to turn things around is by your actions, not by your words,” the founder professed, adding that “things happen when you are committed and have a purpose.”
Lang likened the challenges facing Woodstock 50 to those that plagued the original Woodstock event. “In 1969, we got kicked out of Wallkill a month before the festival was to happen. One of the miracles was that we found a site the next day,” he recalled. “We’re committed. We were committed then, and we’re not stopping now.”