The music-making may have ended on the muddy fields of Woodstock '94, but the money-making is far from over.
As the mega-event shifts to its next phase, already in the works are a book, a movie, a video and a compact disc set, among other possible after-products. The potential revenue from those ventures, along with the money already made on the show, could bring the total garnered by Woodstock Ventures Inc. and its parent company, PolyGram NV of London, to more than $150 million.An analysis of the revenue thus far and consultations with experts in several entertainment industry segments indicates the Woodstock franchise could have a lucrative shelf life.
Not every analyst agrees with that conclusion. Some say it is too soon to judge the value of the Woodstock franchise. For the concert to provide continuing revenue to its promoters, several doubters said, it must reach a level of cultural and mythical acceptance on a par with the first Woodstock concert in 1969, and that may not be possible.
But other entertainment industry experts say sales from the movie, video and album could reach $100 million if the after-market products are warmly accepted by consumers. That would be on top of revenue from the three days of mud and music the weekend of Aug. 12-14, which alone probably topped $60 million for the promoters, sponsors and vendors.
The tally also does not include an additional $12 million from the pay television broadcast of the concert weekend.
The estimate of the three days' revenue is based on the sale of about 190,000 tickets at $135 apiece, as well as $35 million in food and trinkets. The state tax department is estimating it will earn as much as $1.5 million in sales tax from the Woodstock and Bethel concerts. The $1.5 million, the vast bulk of it from Woodstock, would represent 4 percent of total food, beverage and merchandise sales at the concert, meaning total weekend sales of $37.5 million.
Industry experts estimate about 1 percent of available television sets, or about 240,000 nationwide, ordered the paid telecast version of the show, which cost $49.95 for the weekend. That would mean nearly $12 million in sales, about half of which is likely to go to the promoters. The rest is divided among cable companies.
The concert's promoters, voluble on most other subjects in recent months, were uncharacteristically terse this week in their comments on their financial potential. A spokeswoman for Polygram Holdings in New York, parent company of promoter PolyGram Diversified Entertainment Inc., said it is too soon to tell how much the concert and after-market products will bring in.
"It's premature," said the spokeswoman, who declined to be named.
In comments last week after the concert ended, John Scher, president of PolyGram Diversified, put expenses at more than $30 million and said the different ancillary products, which include sponsorships and merchandising of Woodstock products, meant it will be months before the finances shake out.
"If you call my office in a few months and I'm still there, you'll know I turned a profit," the veteran promoter joked with reporters at the site last week.
The biggest single item likely to emerge from Woodstock will be a compact disc set compilation of the concert's best performances.
Critics widely hailed the more than 60 individual and group performances. If the album reaches the multiplatinum stage by selling several million copies, PolyGram stands to reap millions of dollars. A boxed set at a retail price of $29.95 could bring in nearly $60 million if it sells 2 million copies.
But some in the music industry wonder whether the wide diversity of music at the show will permit PolyGram label A&M Records to craft a disc with wide appeal. Vinnie Birbiglia, singles buyer for Trans World Music Corp. in Albany, said the mix of everything from rap and heavy metal to 60s-era folk and pop means many of the groups won't sound good together on an album.
"It's too early to make an assessment," said Birbiglia, a veteran of the 1969 Woodstock concert and former owner of Albany nightclub J.B. Scotts. "You had a hodgepodge of performers."
PolyGram said before the concert it would offer a two-disc set in time for the holidays.
Accompanying the album will be a film and eventually a video, which are being produced by a top documentary filmmaker. As with the record, industry opinions diverged as to whether the film and video will be successful.
Birbiglia predicted it will be a big hit because it will allow the curious a chance to peek at the concert's weekend of music and gentle anarchy for the price of a movie ticket.
But Bruce Apar, editor of industry magazine Video Business was skeptical. Music videos and films rarely become blockbuster hits.
"If the son of Woodstock ('69) is going to do well, it is going to have to be on merits that some what transcend music," Apar said.
Music videos are the only category of the booming $14 billion video industry to decline in sales volume in 1993, he said.
Lou Ehrenkrantz, an entertainment industry analyst in Boca Raton, Fla., said he is willing to bet Woodstock '94 won't transcend mere commerce to become a cultural watershed.
"Lightning doesn't strike twice," Ehrenkrantz said. "The second Woodstock will be forgotten in three weeks. Will they turn a profit? They will be able to sell some records. But any sales coming out of Woodstock '94 will be very disappointing. I know that's a minority viewpoint. Let's talk again six months from now."