Woodstock 50 releases all artists from contracts three weeks before event

All of the artists who were set to perform at the Woodstock 50 festival have been released of their contracts just weeks before the planned event. 

The news comes after the festival was fighting for a new venue for the quite a while, but announced they were relocating to Maryland instead of New York. 

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Organizers confirmed to the New York Times that the event will be held at Merriweather Post Pavilion on Aug 16 through 18. The new location is about four-and-a-half hours away from the original festival grounds.

In documents from Bloomberg, an executive with Howard County in Maryland wrote to Greg Peck, one of the Woodstock organizers that they couldn’t pass the opportunity up to save the event.

“When we heard that there was an opportunity to save this festival and bring a piece of American history to our community this summer, we jumped at the chance. Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia is a jewel of Howard County and one of the top music venues in the nation. It felt like such a natural fit to host a historic festival on our storied stage.”

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Seth Hurwitz, operator of Merriweather Post Pavilion says Woodstock 50 reached out and they’re working on finalizing the performers now.

“The Woodstock folks are working on securing the artists now. If the bands come, we’ll produce the show. We’re looking forward to getting an update as soon as Woodstock 50 has one.”

The festival was formerly set to happen with Halsey, the Killers, Jay-Z, Chance The Rapper and Miley Cyrus. Their contracts have the former grounds listed but given they’re now a hefty distance away will likely to be void.

The documents further note the festival will be renamed “Woodstock 50 Washington.”

The event will primarily serve as a fundraiser for nonprofits dedicated to climate change and voter turnout. Some of the proceeds from ticket sales are expecting to be put towards organizations like HeadCount.

Since the news of the festival moving, some artists including Jay-Z pulled out. Now, the festival has just released all artists of their contracts completely. The artists’ agents got emails that the festival would “not try to enforce performance contracts for the event.” 

The festival released the contracts because moving the event 350 miles away from the initial location breached the terms included in those contracts. 

The festival was set to take place August 16-18, so its unclear if the festival will have enough time to replace those acts. 

More Woodstock news

After facing the loss of their venue, Woodstock 50 was forced to seek out a new location for their event. A couple of days ago it was revealed that the festival applied for a new venue with a decreased capacity size.

Then, the organizers provided yet another update about the event, and it sounded troublesome. 

A key official says that hosting the festival on short notice could “post a significant challenge.” 

The festival is set to take place in Vernon Downs in Oneida County at the racetrack. However, officials worry that the short time span will hinder the festival. 

Oneida County Executive Anthony J Picente, Jr. released a statement in which he expressed concerns regarding the music festival honoring Woodstock’s 50th anniversary. 

“With the event just a little over a month away, we have been asked to prepare in just days what has failed to get done in over a year of negotiations and preparations at the previous location,” Picente’s statement said. “….With such a short time frame the logistical hurdles to ensure the public health and safety of the concertgoers and the surrounding community could pose a significant challenge.”

Recently, we learned of the venue change for the event that takes place Aug. 16-18 

The original site was slated to hold 150,000 attendees. The new location, according to Watson, has a proposed capacity of 45,000-50,000.

Now, sources tell Billboard that the artists slated to play the festival have yet to be alerted of the potential venue change.

Many of the artists’ contracts were set up through Dentsu, the original investor that pulled from the event April 29.

Dentsu paid over $32 million in artist fees and production costs before pulling from the event.

The company allegedly reached out to three of the big agencies representing the artists playing Woodstock. Those being CAA, Paradigm and WME. They stated they plan to honor their contracts and not ask for any of the money back.

An order from a NY judge prevents Dentsu from canceling Woodstock 50, but executives have sent Peck multiple letters attempting to assert control over the event.

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This order also does not allow Dentsu to tell artists not to play the festival. That puts everyone in an awkward spot.

Despite the numerous roadblocks regarding the festival, Lang is refusing to give up on the event. This puts agents and managers of the artists in a weird situation. This is because they don’t want to jeopardize the money their clients have already been paid.

Read more: Woodstock 50 applies for new venue with decreased capacity

However, sources tell Billboard that contractually, the artists are legally covered to pull from the event. Their contracts list the venue as Watkins Glenn, not somewhere two hours away.

“Each artist will have to make a decision about whether this is something they want to take on now that so much has changed,” one source tells Billboard. “Often, the artist will feel compelled to play because they don’t want to disappoint their fans, but in the case of Woodstock 50, no one has bought tickets yet, so there’s not really anyone to disappoint.”

Could a loss of artists on the lineup be the next big hurdle for Woodstock 50? We may not have to wait too much longer to find out.

“If this isn’t settled by Monday, I think you’ll see a few agents say that Woodstock 50 is in breach of contract and artists will start to pull out,” one source says.

Do you think Woodstock will still continue as planned? Sound off in the comments below!

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