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All change for free-to-attend Woodstock 50

Woodstock 50 has been subject to more upheaval over the past few days, moving out of New York state, reportedly releasing all scheduled artists from contracts and making tickets free.

Eighteen days out from the anniversary event, organisers of struggling Woodstock 50 have announced a new venue, 275 miles south of the original site at Watkins Glen.

The festival is now to take place at the 32,000-capacity Merriweather Post Pavilion in Maryland state, having lost its first venue at Watkins Glen racetrack and later failing to secure a permit for replacement site, Vernon Downs racecourse.

Following the new venue announcement, artists were reportedly released from festival contracts, as the distance from the original site allegedly constituted a contractual breach.

All artist names and line-up information has since been removed from the Woodstock 50 website.

Acts scheduled to perform at Woodstock 50 included Jay-Z, Dead and Company, John Fogerty, the Killers, Miley Cyrus and Santana.

“We’re still waiting to hear who is playing, but [..] they [Woodstock] do still have a venue if they have a show”

“We’re still waiting to hear who is playing, but that’s not our job,” says Seth Hurtwitz, chairman and co-founder of venue operator IMP. “They do still have a venue if they have a show.”

It has also been announced that the event will now be free-to-attend, although remaining ticketed.

“Tickets are for a single day and will be distributed through HeadCount, participating artists’ foundations and local charitable partnerships in DC and Baltimore,” a Woodstock 50 spokesperson told Washington-based publication, WTOP.

Festival organiser Michael Lang has faced difficulties since the event’s primary financier, Amplifi Live, pulled out in April. The event has since lost production partners Superfly and replacement CID Entertainment, as well as its two previous venues.

Woodstock 50 is still scheduled to take place on the original dates from 16 to 18 August, with tickets yet to be distributed.

Merriweather Post Pavilion is to host concerts by Morrisey, the Smashing Pumpkins and Vampire Weekend over the coming weeks. In addition to Merriweather, IMP also operates Washington venues Anthem (6,000-cap.), 9:30 (1,200-cap.) and Lincoln Theatre (1,225-cap.).


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Free entertainment event tickets for unpaid US federal workers

Organisations across the United States are offering free event tickets to furloughed government workers, in a show of solidarity with employees who have not received paychecks since the beginning of the government shutdown in December.

Over 800,000 federal workers are going without pay as a result of the shutdown which began on 22 December, making it officially the longest in US history.

In response, live music venues, cinemas, sports teams and museums across the country have offered tickets to events free of charge.

Exhibition basketball team Harlem Globetrotters are offering complimentary tickets to any government employee currently on furlough. The offer includes any ticket to the team’s 2019 Fan Powered North American tour and will remain valid for as long as the shutdown continues.

“As the Ambassadors of Goodwill, we want to show our support to all those government workers whose paychecks, and by extension their families, are directly impacted,” said Globetrotter president Howard Smith.

“We want to offer our friends the happiness that live music and the performing arts can provide”

Symphonies around the country are similarly doing their bit to help the workers. The Spokane Symphony Orchestra in Washington is among those offering free tickets to shows.

“We are sorry for the hardships our federal workers have had to endure during the shutdown. We want to offer our friends some wonderful music and entertainment to give them the happiness that live music and the performing arts can provide,” announced symphony executive director Jeff vom Saal.

Orchestras in Florida, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Boston have also made tickets available.

A disagreement in Congress initiated the shutdown after president Donald Trump refused to approve the federal budget unless it included US$5.7 billion towards the building of the Mexican border wall. Democrats rejected the request, placing the government in deadlock.

US rapper Cardi B spoke out against the shutdown in an Instagram video posted yesterday. The video, in which the rapper refers to the country as a “hellhole”, has so far received over 12.5 million views.


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Apple Music Fest: No stream for non-subscribers

While much of the coverage around the 10th Apple Music Festival, returning to the Roundhouse in London from 18 to 30 September, has so far focused on its big-name line-up, announced yesterday, eagled-eyed press release-readers will have noticed one other major change for 2016: non-subscribers to Apple Music need not apply.

Whereas in previous years the free festival could be streamed live by anyone with iTunes – or, with its name change last year from the iTunes Festival to Apple Music Festival, Apple Music; even non-subscribers – this year’s live stream will viewable only by subscribers to Apple’s $9.99/£9.99-per-month music streaming service.

According to the launch announcement, “the 10 spectacular nights of live performances will be made available live and on-demand to Apple Music members in 100 countries on their iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Mac, PC, Apple TV and Android phones”.

The festival isn’t the first time the service has lent its name to a live music event – in a first for Apple, Drake’s Summer Sixteen tour is billed as being co-presented by Apple Music – but it will be the first year in which Apple’s flagship festival will be a closed shop available only to its subscriber base.

The 2016 headliners are:

18 September: Elton John
19 September: The 1975
20 September: Alicia Keys
21 September: OneRepublic
23 September: Calvin Harris
25 September: Robbie Williams
26 September: Bastille
27 September: Britney Spears
28 September: Michael Bublé
30 September: Chance the Rapper


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Exhibition and roundtables celebrate UK free events

Eventbrite is to host a touring exhibition celebrating the best free events held in the British Isles over the last 50 years.

Free: Celebrating Free Events for All, a multimedia exhibition that will run in London, Glasgow and Dublin, will also serve as a backdrop to networking events and discussions for those involved in running free-of-charge events.

The first Free exhibition will kick off in London on Wednesday 6 April and run till Sunday 10 April. It will include over 300 rarely-seen photographs, audio, video and posters covering “Carnival to Castlemorton, Pride, the early free concerts including the Stones and Pink Floyd in Hyde Park, David Bowie in Beckenham and other iconic moments in national cultural life”.

The Glasgow exhibition, running from 12 to 16 April, will “look to the huge variety of free events that take place across Scotland every year, ranging from the stunning spectacle of Strathaven Balloon Festival to the carnival atmosphere of Glasgow’s West End Festival parade”, while the Dublin event, from 13 to 17 April, will focus on “the inspiring free events that have taken place in [the Republic of] Ireland since the formation of the state, including photographs taken by eyewitnesses at pivotal moments in the nation’s history, digging deep into the archives at The Irish Times and the Irish Photo Archive”.

“Next week’s roundtable and discussions will provide us with a healthy debate”

The London and Dublin events will begin with an invite-only roundtable, followed by a behind-the-scenes panel discussion exploring the historic role free events play in British and Irish culture and what can be done to ensure they thrive.  The London roundtable will be moderated by Andrew Harrison, former editor of Q, Mixmag and Select and cofounder of the Word.

Eventbrite UK and Ireland general manager Joel Crouch, who joined the self-service ticketing and registration company in January, says: “Next week’s roundtable and discussions will provide us with a healthy debate. Free event organisers tell us that their pinch points for hosting free music, community and cultural gatherings can be as simple as availability of suitable venues and spaces. Sometimes they are looking for guidance on everything from health and safety training to making the most of social media and technology to market and manage the event.

“We had over one million free events on the Eventbrite platform last year and are pleased to be able host a free-style exhibition of iconic images and memories, as well as support the many organisers who run free events.”

London’s panel discussion on 6 April will be hosted by DJ Mag editor Carl Loben and feature DJ Pete ‘Woosh’ of the DiY sound system and free festival veteran Chris Tofu. In Glasgow a panel will explore the challenges and advantages of creating music events, with an emphasis on festival culture, and in Dublin panellists will focus on the issue of attracting sponsors.