Campbell Smith says Beck was supposed to be on the bill at this weekend's Auckland City Limits festival, but "we couldn't make it work".
In a revealing interview with The Spinoff, the festival boss said he spent a long time trying to persuade the American singer-songwriter to perform at the festival.
Despite nabbing one of the world's biggest rap acts in Kendrick Lamar, Smith said he was "frustrated" Beck wouldn't be on the bill.
"Just timing wise we couldn't make it work. It was frustrating not to get it but ... maybe I just saved myself a whole lot of money," he said.
In an earlier interview with the same publication, Smith had hinted that he was trying to sign an artist that was "pivotal" to the success of ACL.
"(He's) constantly going, 'I'm gonna confirm tomorrow, I'm gonna confirm next week,' and I think eventually that artist will confirm but it's just so pivotal to what I'm trying to do with the the whole thing that I can't go out without it," he said.
Beck kicked off his career with slacker-rap anthems like Loser, but more recently has made mellow indie-rock records. 2014's Morning Phase won Album of the Year at the 2014 Grammy Awards.
Held at Western Springs Stadium on Saturday, ACL is a spin-off from Austin City Limits and features The National, Cold War Kids, Action Bronson and Girl Talk, as well as Kiwi acts Broods, Naked & Famous and Fat Freddy's Drop.
Smith, the longtime promoter of the New Zealand Big Day Out, admitted the festival would struggle to make money but hoped it would become an annual event.
"The likelihood of financial success - in terms of it making money - is probably not great ... but this is a long term commitment for us," he said.
"We need to consider this as something new that we're starting from scratch, and need to build an audience for and that takes time. We need to do the things that we do extremely well so that people leave going, 'I'm going to go next year' and you just have to build that, I think."
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