In March of 2019, Woodstock 50 was announced. Set to be held in August 2019 in New York, the festival soon faced a number of problems. After a venue change, a shift to a free benefit show and several acts dropping from the lineup, Woodstock 50 was ultimately canceled in the end.
Now, the festival is reportedly suing its main financial backer Dentsu Group. In the complaint, the festival accuses Dentsu of “sabotage” and “destruction of the festival.”
Woodstock 50 was set to take place over the course of three days in August 2019. Halsey, the Killers, Miley Cyrus, Chance The Rapper and Jay Z were a few of the artists set to headline. However, as time progressed and the festival neared, many acts started dropping from the lineup.
Woodstock 50 lost their first headliner in April ahead of ticket sales with the Black Keys dropping off. Shortly after, cancellation rumors sparked due to a delayed ticket sales launch. Eventually, all of the artists set to perform were released from their contracts just weeks before the event.
In May of 2019, Woodstock 50 first sued Dentsu Group, and won, after the investor company backed out of the project. Dentsu’s absence from the event caused various other problems that eventually led to its cancelation.
Organizers found a new investor in May, but lost their venue due to contract issues in June. They applied for a new, smaller venue at Vernon Downs, which they didn’t inform any of the lineup of at the time. After submitting three appeals for the venue, they moved across state lines to Maryland.
Up until now, the true turmoil behind the festival was kept under wraps. Now, the problems that led to the doomed festival are being revealed in a new legal complaint.
Dentsu Group is now accused of defaming Woodstock 50 with the purpose of preventing acts and guests from attending.
“Dentsu’s wrongful actions to defame Woodstock 50 were undertaken for the purpose of preventing other parties from attending, financing or participating in the Festival,” the complaint says. “And were intended to and did ensure that the Festival failed and could make no profit from the Festival. Absent Dentsu’s wrongful actions, Woodstock 50 would have been able to successfully produce the Festival. And further monetize the Festival through media and sponsorship deals. And future licensing deals relating to the Festival.”
According to the complaint, the festival believes it is entitled to millions of dollars in compensation.
“Despite Woodstock 50’s best efforts, Dentsu’s sabotage was effective and complete,” the complaint continues. “And directly resulted in huge damages to Woodstock 50. As a result of Dentsu’s egregious conduct, Woodstock 50 is entitled to tens of millions of dollars in compensatory and punitive damages.”
Following this, a Dentsu representative released a statement to Rolling Stone. In the statement, the rep denies the claims made against Dentsu and its affiliate company Amplifi Live. The rep claims that the festival breached its initial agreement. As well, safety and profitability issues also led to Dentsu backing out of the festival.
“Dentsu’s affiliate, Amplifi Live, acted in the best interest of the public last year after Woodstock 50 breached its agreement,” the representative says. “After a full evidentiary hearing, the court credited Amplifi Live’s evidence that a safe and profitable festival could not be mounted. And therefore refused to order Amplfi Live to continue funding the project. The parties are about to engage in an arbitration hearing, but Woodstock 50 prefers baseless claims in press releases rather than to have the parties’ dispute decided by arbitrators. Amplfi Live is vigorously defending these claims in arbitration and pursuing breach and fraud claims against Woodstock 50. Amplifi Live and its parent and affiliates will vigorously defend Woodstock 50’s eleventh-hour effort to escape the arbitration forum. Woodstock 50 does not represent the Woodstock brand, having lost that license, and the claims in this new filing have no merit and are improper.”
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