After Woodstock 50’s financial backer Dentsu pulled out of the event, the festival was up in the air. Now, a judge ruled that the festival may continue, but Dentsu is not responsible for returning the $18 million it withdrew from the event.
As of this week, organizer Michael Lang doesn’t necessarily have the funds to host Woodstock 50, but he still has hope in the festival. Supreme Court Justice Barry Ostrager ruled that Dentsu and its subsidiary Amplifi Live acted outside of the powers granted to them in their contract when they announced the cancellation of the festival late last month. However, he also said that Lang did not have control over how the money was spent and therefore, Dentsu does not have to return their funds.
A spokesperson for Dentsu told Billboard that they feel “vindicated to hear that the court agreed with what we have maintained all along: Woodstock 50 was not entitled to access the festival bank account per the contract and thus any access now is denied and the $17.8M remains with Amplify Live.”‘
“The court did not rule that Amplifi Live’s assumption of control over the festival was improper or alter that status in any way,” they continued. “While we understand that pursuant to the court’s ruling Amplifi Live cannot cancel the festival without Woodstock 50’s agreement, at this time we do not intend to further invest in the festival due to the issues noted by the court, as well as the compressed timeframe, and multiple health and safety concerns.”
Lang, on the other hand, notes the ruling as a victory.
“We have always relied on the truth and have never lost faith that the Festival would take place,” Lang told 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.”
Litigation might be in store for both Lang and Dentsu now; Woodstock 50 will likely sue Dentsu for improperly cancelling the festival and damaging the brand while Dentsu will likely counter-suit for Woodstock 50 breaching its contract and misrepresenting the capacity for the festival. The company that was hired to produce the festival, Superfly, reportedly told both Dentsu and Lang more than five times that the event could not hold more than 65,000 fans and has issued two of its own breaches of contracts.
The festival, which is set to take place from August 24 to 26 in Watkins Glen, New York, now needs $20 to $30 million to secure permits. However, at this time it is unclear if $30 million will be enough to pull off the event, and it is unknown if the headlining artists booked for the festival will actually show up – since Dentsu reportedly held contracts with them. Woodstock 50 also needs a new company to produce the festival, and Dan Berkowitz’s firm CID Entertainment has yet to confirm if they will take it on.
This is the latest issue Woodstock 50 has faced over the past few months. First, the lineup announcement was delayed, and then headliners The Black Keys pulled out due to a “scheduling conflict.” Tickets were supposed to go on sale April 22 on Earth Day, but has been delayed as Lang awaits a permit from the New York State Department of Health.
If Lang is still able to secure everything he needs to host the festival in August, fans can expect to see performances from some of the top artists in the industry like popstars Miley Cyrus and Halsey, rapper Jay-Z, and rock groups The Killers and Imagine Dragons. Additionally, legendary acts like Santana, Grateful Dead, and John Fogerty, who performed at the original 1969 fest, will take the stage.