Artists drop out of Woodstock 50; festival releases artists from contracts

More than 80 artists were set to perform

What is supposed to be “Three Days of Peace and Love” has turned into a major catastrophe after artists are dropping out of Woodstock 50, now known as Woodstock 50 Washington. Following John Fogerty’s announcement that he’s no longer performing at the 50th anniversary celebration August 16-18th, Jay Z and Dead & Co have pulled out of the event. Now, festival organizers are releasing all artists from their contracts after moving it more than 250 miles from its original Upstate New York location at Watkins Glen to Maryland’s Merriweather Post Pavilion.

Billboard reports that Woodstock founder Michael Lang emailed talent agents of acts on the bill to inform them they wouldn’t try to enforce performance contracts for the event, although those artists were still invited to perform. The letter explained that moving the event 250 miles voided the artists contract and they were no longer legally obligated to perform.

The Woodstock 50th anniversary celebration has been troubled since its announcement in January. Tickets did not go on sale as originally planned in March after organizers failed to obtain the proper permits for three day fest, causing original investor Dentsu Aegis Network to “cancel” the event.

In June, the Woodstock 50 team secured Oppenheimer & Co. as financial investor to complete the financing for the festival following a legal victory, after it was ruled that original investor Dentsu had no right to cancel the three day anniversary festival. However, organizers lost the initial Watkins Glen venue shortly thereafter, causing even more concern.

However, Billboard initially reported that the artists on the bill were not contractually obligated to perform after Dentsu pulled out.

“The artist contracts are with Dentsu, not with Michael Lang or Woodstock 50,” an agent with artists booked for the event tells the publication.

Artists agencies are still stating that the contracts were with Dentsu and are void since they pulled out, along with producer Superfly, over permits that have yet to be attained. “First, no one from Lang’s office or Woodstock 50 has called us to let us know what is going on,” one agency representative tells Billboard. “Second, our contract was with Amplifi Live, not with Woodstock 50.”

More than 80 artists were announced in March — later than expected for an event of this magnitude — including The Killers, Miley Cyrus, The Lumineers, The Raconteurs, Sturgill Simpson, Greta Van Fleet, Jay-Z, Imagine Dragons, Halsey were announced to perform. The Black Keys were initially announced as performers, but pulled out before all of the canceled chaos began.

Organizers are aiming to charge $129 to $595 for one-day passes to the event although they are still in talks with artists and their representatives.

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Buddy Iahn
Buddy Iahn founded The Music Universe when he decided to juxtapose his love of web design and music. As a lifelong drummer, he decided to take a hiatus from playing music to report it. The website began as a fun project in 2013 to one of the top independent news sites. Email:
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