Business News Gigs & Festivals Live Business Top Stories

Woodstock 50 is cancelled but then not cancelled

By | Published on Tuesday 30 April 2019

Woodstock 50

There was quite a bit of confusion yesterday over that big festival being staged to celebrate the five decade anniversary of Woodstock, after one of the event’s financial backers announced that it had been cancelled only for Woodstock company to insist it was going ahead.

The 2019 event – the third time a milestone anniversary has been marked with another festival – is due to take place from 16-18 Aug with Jay-Z, Dead & Company and The Killers all set to headline. To date Woodstock co-founder Michael Lang has been the main spokesperson for the festivities, telling reporters that he hoped the event would celebrate activism and political engagement as much as the music happening on stage.

However, yesterday it was another entity putting out statements about Woodstock 50. Amplifi Live, a division of marketing group the Dentsu Aegis Network, was one of the festival’s backers, and it announced 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”.

In the wake of that announcement, Billboard reported that organisers had recently approached both Live Nation and AEG to step in as new backers of the festival, mainly by pumping $20 million into the event. Neither of the live music giants seemed keen to get involved, possibly because of divisions between those running the show, and rumours that the festival’s main production partner was about to be fired.

However, pretty much as soon as the news Woodstock 50 was cancelled had circled around the internet, a new statement was issued from the festival’s organisers insisting the show was still going ahead. They stated: “We are committed to ensuring that the 50th Anniversary of Woodstock is marked with a festival deserving of its iconic name and place in American history and culture. 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”.

Elsewhere, the aforementioned Lang told TMZ that Amplifi Live’s statement had come as a “complete surprise” to him. Meanwhile, other people involved in the actual Woodstock company told media that their financial backer had no right to unilaterally announce the festival had been cancelled, indicating that legal action could now follow over that announcement.

Quite who the new partners will be to help make the big anniversary party happen is not yet known. But in their statement, the Woodstock team insisted: “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”.