Woodstock 50: Michael Lang Admits Festival “went off the rails from the beginning”
Woodstock 50, after months of insane drama, was officially canceled yesterday (July 31), and while organizer Michael Lang is disappointed at how everything turned out, he did accept some of the blame for the festival’s struggles.
Lang spoke at length about this and more to Rolling Stone, and one of the decisions he regrets the most was partnering with financial backer Dentsu, who famously pulled their funding and canceled the festival in April.
“I take full responsibility for agreeing to go with Dentsu. It was the biggest factor on why this thing didn’t happen….We just frankly picked the wrong partner in Dentsu,” said Lang. “They didn’t really understand the business. When the agreement went at the last minute of just being a backer to a co-producer, they had input into everything that we did. It just pretty much went off the rails from the beginning. They weren’t cognizant of the timeframe for how these things have to get done and how much work has to get done.”
On Dentsu, Lang continued, “In the beginning, they were very excited about it. They were excited about the brand and they were excited about the potential for profit, and they said they were in it for doing some good. I guess I bought into that. Once our contracts were ready to be signed and this issue came up where suddenly they had to be co-producing and had to agree on everything at the last minute – and although they assured me it was just for looks – that was really the beginning of the problems.
So, for anyone trying to organize a festival, Lang offered this piece of sage advice: “…If you have an investor that’s just going be an investor and stay out of your way, then fine. But if not, you really should be in business with some people who are of the business.”
As for those comparisons to Fyre Fest, Lang dismissed those saying, “All those allusions to Fyre Festival were so unfounded. That was all about a scam; about selling tickets without having an event. We didn’t put anything on sale until we knew we had the event we were discussing. So I didn’t see any relation to the Fyre Festival. [Woodstock 50] was an unfortunate venture, but I chalk it up to having the wrong partners early on. We did everything we could have done and we had the right motivations. We put together what I thought was an amazing lineup of talent. I thought we had all that right.”