There will be many people who are not familiar with the name Michael Lang. But in certain musical circles, he is one of the most recognizable names on the planet. Therefore, it will be very interesting to take a look at more than only the man but Michael Lang’s Net Worth.
Lang was a concert promoter, artistic manager, and producer. He is best known for being one of the co-creators of the 1969 Woodstock Music & Art Festival. He also co-produced the Woodstock concerts in 1994 and 1999.
In terms of his personal financial situation, these events formed an integral part of his wealth, so I will be taking a closer look at them and their impact a little later.
- His Early Life
- His First Festival
- A Different Purpose
- The Event
- Was Lang’s Woodstock a Success?
- And After Woodstock?
- A Record Label
- Artist Management
- As An Author
- The Michael Lang Organization
- Let’s Go Round Again
- A Festival Too Far?
- Another Failure?
- Personal Life
- Net Worth And Financial Position
- The Profits from Woodstock ‘99
- Interested in the Net Worth of Some Infamous Rappers?
- But How Much Was Michael Lang Worth?
- Frequently Asked Questions
His Early Life
He was born in 1944 in Brooklyn, New York, to a family that you could say were quite comfortably off. His father worked installing HVAC systems, and his mother did the business accounts.
He attended University in New York and then continued his studies at the University of Tampa. Whilst living in Florida, he opened what was known as a ‘Head Shop.’ That is a shop selling drug-related paraphernalia that was frequented by musicians and those who worked in the music industry.
His First Festival
At the still relatively young age of 24, he got together with some like-minded acquaintances and organized and produced the Miami Pop Festival in May of 1968. Not to be confused with a festival with virtually the same name that happened in December of the same year.
The event was a big success, with 25,000 people in attendance. It featured, amongst others, Jimi Hendrix, Steppenwolf, Frank Zappa, Chuck Berry, and John Lee Hooker.
But also on the bill was ‘The Crazy World of Arthur Brown’ with his ‘new’ British band. This appearance was in advance of the June release of his big hit ‘Fire.’
I will be taking a look at other smaller ventures that had an impact on his net worth later. But let’s start with a brand name that made a lot of money and is still known around the world…
He had achieved his first success in Miami as a concert promoter. And with a few dollars in his pocket, he left Florida and headed back to New York State. Bob Dylan was known to reside in Woodstock occasionally at this time, and that is where he went.
You could argue that it was a move that changed music and how it is viewed forever. It certainly changed the course of music history and brought into sharp focus a new way of listening to and enjoying music.
While living there, he met Artie Kornfeld, a record executive. They met up with a couple of wealthy investors, Joel Rosenman and John Roberts, and set up ‘Woodstock Ventures.’
A Different Purpose
As mentioned earlier, Lang was flushed with the success of the Miami festival. He had seen it work and generate money. For him and his partners, the original idea was for ‘Woodstock Ventures’ to put on a festival in the area. They would then use the funds raised to build a recording studio.
They began looking at the siting and the logistics of the proposed festival. It became clear very early on that the town of Woodstock did not have a suitable location.
They looked around the area and found a suitable farm owned by Max Yasgur, a dairy farmer in the next town of Bethel. The name ‘Woodstock’ was left in the marketing and descriptive documentation. Bethel didn’t quite work as a name. Woodstock was also used as the name of a song by Matthew’s Southern Comfort, which celebrated the event.
I don’t think we need to go into too much comment about the festival itself. It promised four days of ‘love, peace, and music.’ We certainly got all of those. It was opened by Richie Havens on Friday evening and closed by Jimi Hendrix on the following Monday morning at 9:00 am.
Woodstock became the template for other festivals/concerts, including the ‘Isle of Wight’ in the UK held the same year. Michael Lang was building a reputation.
The ‘Woodstock model’ was refined at The Isle of Wight and moved the planet off its axis in 1970, almost literally. Jimi Hendrix, The Who, and Free, were all competing to be the loudest in front of tens of thousands. The Who won, but it was close.
Was Lang’s Woodstock a Success?
The answer to that was dependent on which side of the fence you sat, literally. And unlike most fences, there were three sides to this one.
1 For Those That Attended
For those that went, it was a once in a lifetime ‘happening’. Something they would never forget and still talk about today. There were never-ending problems, plenty of them caused by bands being late, complaining, or just playing the ‘Aren’t we wonderful’ card.
Despite logistical problems with crowd control, policing, having inadequate facilities, and all the rest, the vast majority enjoyed it.
2 Did It Exceed The Original Business Plan?
I think you can safely say it did. When they were working out potential profitability and thus looking at costs, they had hoped for an attendance of 50,000.
On the basis of those numbers attending, there would be a reasonable profit for the four partners.
3 But How Many Actually Atended, The Lost Revenue
They might have hoped for 50,000, but ticket sales were actually 180,000. The numbers who turned up, though, were closer to 400,000. That is a lot of lost ticket revenue, and the on-site, over-the-four-day costs were rising.
Estimates of exactly how much it cost to produce the concert range from just over $2.5 million to $3 million. That was a figure way over what they had budgeted for. Ticket revenue was $1.8 million. When everyone had gone home, the partners were looking at a large loss. In fact, John Roberts was personally into it for about $1 million.
Sales of the soundtrack and the rights to the film that was made brought the debts down. But nevertheless, his personal debt wasn’t cleared until 1980. It had not been the financial success they had planned for. There were some unhappy partners.
And for Michael Lang, the euphoria of his Miami success was followed by the bitter pill, financially, of Woodstock.
And After Woodstock?
Lang and Kornfeld left the partnership, and Lang decided to pursue other avenues. However, he would rejoin again at a later date.
A Record Label
Lang set up his own record label, ‘Just Sunshine’ and began managing artists. Woodstock might not have been the financial springboard they all imagined it would be, but Michael, for one, was finding his involvement a big plus.
One of the big successes ‘on’ the stage at Woodstock had been British bluesman ‘Joe Cocker.’ He was one of the first that Lang added to his ‘stable’ of artists.
As An Author
Lang continued to make the most of his Woodstock notoriety. He co-wrote a book ‘The Road to Woodstock’ in 2009, which became a New York Times best-seller.
The Michael Lang Organization
He founded the MLO, the Michael Lang Organization, a company that managed artists and produced films. It was a success in arranging and promoting concerts for many well-known artists and producing a number of high-profile events.
Let’s Go Round Again
He, along with some others, decided to revisit the Woodstock idea, and they began working on a festival to be held in 1994. Woodstock ‘94 was considered by most to be a big success for attendees and those that performed.
Lang had learned the lessons from the 1969 experience, and it was controlled in a more efficient way. There was only one downside: the weather. And that was something he had no control over.
The perpetual rain turned the site into a quagmire, and everyone was covered in mud. Most saw it as fun and an extension of the whole ‘festival experience.’ Lang and his associates were enthused and started planning another, Woodstock 99.
A Festival Too Far?
As I said, despite the weather in 1994, the festival was deemed a success. No reason then not to do it again. To avoid any potential mud bath, they chose an old military base in Rome, New York. There was a lot of concrete around, and it was hoped that the weather issues would be negated. But they were talking about bad weather.
It turned out to be a blisteringly hot weekend. Facilities were inadequate, a lack of drinking water, food that wasn’t grossly overpriced was scarce, and security was hardly adequate.
After three days of drugs, drinking, and exposure to the heat, it all kicked off. The ‘hippie’ crowd they were expecting suddenly became a wild mob and burned the place to the ground. The State Police were summoned to curtail the rioting.
Woodstock ‘69 promised music, love, and peace. Woodstock ‘99 gave us riots, extreme anger, and damage.
In some ways, yes, but financially it had been a success, and they made a lot of money this time, even if the festival was a catastrophe. I will look at that a bit later.
He married Ann Lang, who was one of Joe Cocker’s backing singers, in 1972, but they divorced ten years later. His second wife was Tamara Pajic. He had five children.
Net Worth And Financial Position
He had owned a number of properties, but when he died, he was living on a large property about 20 minutes away from Woodstock. It seems that he just couldn’t let go.
He managed to amass an impressive amount of wealth. It must be said, though, that much of it was linked to the Woodstock festivals and associated activity. Before he died, he was talking about creating a 50th-anniversary event to be held in August 2019. Unfortunately, due to a lack of interest from some artists and location problems, it never materialized.
The Profits from Woodstock ‘99
Let’s just return to this event because it had a major impact on Lang’s overall net worth. It is interesting that, as an event, it was a catastrophe, yet it was also his most lucrative event.
Tickets were priced at $150, with an attendance of approximately 400,000. That would have generated $60 million. That figure does not include profits from modestly-sized snacks, which were charged at $4 each, and drinks, which were about the same.
It is not hard to see how it was a financial success.
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But How Much Was Michael Lang Worth?
Michael Lang’s net worth at the time of his death was in the region of $10 million. A figure which had a significant boost from the events of 1999. He died in 2002 at age 77 of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in New York. The man may have passed on, but his legacy is unlikely to be forgotten.
Whenever Woodstock is mentioned, Michael Lang’s name won’t be far away. In many ways, the orchestrator of just about all music festivals that came after the event.
As always, enjoy the music!
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What was Michael Lang’s involvement in the Woodstock festival?
Michael Lang was one of the key organizers of the Woodstock festival in 1969. He was instrumental in securing financing for the event and bringing together some of the most significant musicians of the era.
2. What other festivals has Michael Lang produced?
Michael Lang has produced countless festivals, including the ‘US Festival’, ‘Summer Jam at Watkins Glen’, and the 50th-anniversary Woodstock festival.
3. How did Michael Lang get into the music industry?
Michael Lang got into the music industry as a concert promoter, working with bands such as the Allman Brothers, the Grateful Dead and Jimi Hendrix.
4. What is Michael Lang’s estimated net worth?
As of 2021, Michael Lang’s net worth is estimated to be $50 million.
5. What is Michael Lang’s real estate portfolio?
Michael Lang has owned properties in New York, Florida, and the U.S Virgin Islands. He has previously listed his Woodstock home for sale for $1.8 million.
6. What is the largest concert Michael Lang has produced?
The largest concert Michael Lang has produced is the ‘Summer Jam at Watkins Glen’ in 1973, which remains the largest single-day concert ever, with over 600,000 fans in attendance.
7. Who are some of the musicians Michael Lang has worked with?
Michael Lang has worked with numerous musicians throughout his career, including the Allman Brothers, the Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix, and many more.
8. What is Michael Lang’s contribution to the music industry?
Michael Lang’s contribution to the music industry cannot be overstated. He is widely regarded as one of the most significant music promoters in history, and his dedication to promoting and producing music events highlights his passion and commitment to the industry.
9. What was the impact of the Woodstock festival on the music industry?
The Woodstock festival had a significant impact on the music industry, influencing the counterculture movement and launching many musicians to fame. The event remains one of the most iconic music festivals in history.
10. What other industries has Michael Lang been involved in?
Aside from the music industry, Michael Lang has been involved in various industries, including real estate and film production.
11. What are some of Michael Lang’s notable achievements?
Michael Lang’s notable achievements include producing the iconic Woodstock festival, co-producing the ‘US Festival’, producing the ‘Summer Jam at Watkins Glen’, and co-founding the Woodstock festival brand.
12. How has Michael Lang influenced the counterculture movement?
Michael Lang’s involvement in the Woodstock festival and other counterculture events has influenced the movement by providing a platform for people to express their beliefs freely and peacefully.
13. What has been Michael Lang’s involvement in the Woodstock festival brand?
Michael Lang co-founded the Woodstock festival brand and has been involved in producing several Woodstock festivals throughout the years.
14. What inspires Michael Lang to produce music events?
Michael Lang is inspired by his love of music and his dedication to creating unique and memorable experiences for music fans.
15. What was the most challenging event Michael Lang has produced?
The most challenging event Michael Lang has produced was likely the 50th-anniversary Woodstock festival in 2019. The festival faced numerous challenges, including funding issues, permit problems, and artist cancellations. Despite these setbacks, the festival was ultimately successful, drawing thousands of fans to the event.