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Woodstock 50 Artists to Receive Millions Despite Festival Cancellation

Jay ZSomething in the Water Music
RMV/Shutterstock

Even though the eternally troubled Woodstock 50 festival has finally been cancelled, the artists who were scheduled to perform are getting a big payday without ever having to play a note.

A rep for the festival confirmed to Variety that every artist on the bill has been paid in full — that’s some 76 artists, not including the Black Keys (who pulled out shortly after being announced) and the “and more” listed for each day. Top artists included Jay-Z, Dead & Company, the Killers, Miley Cyrus, Imagine Dragons, Chance the Rapper, Halsey, the Raconteurs, Santana, John Fogerty and others.

The artists were paid in advance, with the money being held in escrow until the festival either took place or was cancelled, sources say. That money has been released, a source tells Variety, with all of it going to the artists or their representatives.

The artists were paid by the festival’s erstwhile financial backer, Amplifi Live, the investment division of Dentsu Aegis, which pulled out of the festival — and claimed it was cancelled — back in May, and which Woodstock 50 coproducer and original Woodstock cofounder Michael Lang has frequently lambasted for its troubles.

Sources say Dentsu spend some $32 million on the festival before pulling out, and removed $18 million from Woodstock’s account shortly thereafter. Presumably, a large percentage of that sum went to the artists.

In the statement announcing the festival’s official cancelation, organizers suggested that the artists donate 10% of their already-paid fees to the charity HeadCount, a non-profit targeting voter registration which has registered nearly 600,000 voters at concerts and via its website, and has amassed more than 30,000 volunteers nationwide.

However, one insider was tepid on the idea of donating the 10%, suggestions that Lang is trying to guilt the artists. “What has Lang donated personally?,” the insider asked.