This year marks the 50th anniversary of Woodstock, the music and camping festival that helped change the consumption of popular music and the future of music festivals. The three-day event saw 32 acts perform in front of nearly half a million fans. In mid-August of this year, Woodstock 50 was set to take place just 150 miles away from the original festival, with acts like JAY-Z, Janelle Monáe, The Black Keys and Santana—who played at the original Woodstock.
However, there’s a big chance that Woodstock 50 may never happen. In late April, Dentsu Aegis Network, the initial investor for Woodstock 50, pulled out of the festival because of how long it took to release the lineup and to get tickets on sale.
“It’s a dream for agencies to work with iconic brands and to be associated with meaningful movements,” Dentsu said in a statement. “We have a strong history of producing experiences that bring people together around common interests and causes which is why we chose to be a part of the Woodstock 50th Anniversary Festival. But 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.”
It was originally reported that the festival had been canceled, but Woodstock co-founder Michael Lang said that the festival would go on as promised. While it’s admirable to want to continue to produce the festival, Lang needs a lot of money, and he needs it fast.
Dentsu didn’t just pull out of the festival—they pulled their funding, too. Now, Lang and the rest of the Woodstock organizers need to come up with $30 million by Friday or there will be no Woodstock. In an email, Lang said that Dentsu “illegally swept” $17 million from the Woodstock bank account and that Dentsu is pressuring artists to drop out of Woodstock to potentially perform at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
Lang and his team are actively looking for investors, but they’ve already gotten a no from both AEG and Live Nation. As of right now, only The Black Keys have pulled out of the festival among acts that had agreed to play, but the chances of Woodstock happening are looking awfully grim right now.