Michael Cohl began his career in 1969 as a local promoter of concerts. In 1973, he created Concert Productions International and quickly became a driving force in the Canadian music industry, putting Canada on the map as a viable stop for tours of all sizes - theatrical and musical.
From 1973 to 1988, he worked on projects in almost all fields of entertainment - music, sports, theatre (on and off Broadway and throughout North America) and film. He gained experience in all facets of entertainment such as creating and producing the World Professional Skating Championships for ABC TV's Wide World of Sports, the Michael Jackson tour of 1984, several films as well as the tour and retail merchandise for over 150 artists including Frank Sinatra; Michael Jackson; Prince; Stevie Wonder; Pink Floyd; Crosby, Stills Nash and Young; and U2. He has also produced dozens of TV and film specials and tens of thousands of concerts throughout the world.
Beginning in 1989 with the Rolling Stones Steel Wheels Tour, Michael developed the concept of "package" touring. Michael worked directly with the artist to strategize the tour, route the tour, promote the dates, and ultimately ensure an exciting touring experience for both the artists and the fans. He then helped to develop and exploit the aftermarket - books, television shows, videos, films and merchandise. It is a format that has proven successful, but not one easy to emulate.
"First and foremost, the show itself was the seminal, watershed point," says Cohl. "When you look at what a stadium show was pre-Steel Wheels, it was a bit of a scrim, and a big, wide, flat piece of lumber, and that was it. The band turned a stadium into a theater. It all started with Mick. He simply said, 'We have to fill the end space.' It was complicated to the third power and expensive to the fifth. But it worked."
As a result, Michael has received the Number One Promoter of the Year award several times from an array of trade publications and industry associations.
In 2000, he was inducted into the Canadian Music Week Hall of Fame and in 2002, received the Walt Grealis Special Achievement Award from the JUNOs' while simultaneously being inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. In November 2004, Cohl was the first recipient of Billboard Magazine's "Legend of Live" award, given to an individual who has significantly impacted the touring industry in a lasting way.
Michael's new company, Concert Productions International, is a multi-faceted entertainment entity with a wide range of expertise in all areas of live concert, theatre, and event production including tour marketing, merchandizing, sponsorship, broadcast and home entertainment. Michael has promoted five of the six top grossing concert tours of all time and is the world's pre-eminent tour promoter and retail marketer.
Cohl was involved with the Toronto productions of Lion King, Hairspray and The Producers and co-produced Bombay Dreams, the enormously successful London based Andrew Lloyd Webber show that opened on Broadway in April 2004. He is currently involved with the Monty Python musical Spamalot that opened in New York on March 17 and the stage adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of The Rings coming to Toronto in 2006.
Having completed the Rolling Stones most successful tour 40 Licks (September 2002-October 2003), Michael launched his Canadian-based music DVD label and its first release, Four Flicks by the Rolling Stones is now the Number 1 selling music DVD of all time.
In June 2004, Michael released Toronto Rocks, the DVD of the benefit concert he organized to help Toronto in the summer of 2003. The show drew 490,000 plus people and is now regarded as the model for shows of its kind. All proceeds from the sale of the DVD will be donated to various charities and, so far, $1 milliion has been raised.
Also in 2004, Michael produced the documentary Isn't This A Time! featuring Pete Seeger and The Weavers, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. The film received enormous critical and audience acclaim and will appear in theatres in 2005. He is currently producing documentaries on Pete Seeger and Harry Belafonte, as well as producing a film on the life of Vaclav Havel.