Producer’s Spotlight: Michael Hanson

“Oh, about two weeks.”

That’s the answer that producer/engineer Michael Hanson will give you when you ask him how long he’s been in town for, but this humble and phenomenal music industry marathon man has been around for much, much longer than that. From working with a diverse range of artists such as Diamond Rio to Kirk Franklin and everyone in between, Hanson has been around the Nashville studio block more than a few times.

From the time he was five years old, music has always been apart of Hanson’s life.

“I learned how to play a wide variety of instruments,” Hanson said. “Anywhere from piano, keyboards, trumpet, trombone, saxes. Then eventually, the electric guitar is what I gravitated to and ended up playing with rock bands. Music has always been a passion.”

Though music was a passion throughout his teenage and young adult years when he was still playing in bands, running live sound, and doing a few studio sessions here and there, it wasn’t until a life-changing event that made him pursue music full time.

“I was programming computers for a living, and I got into a major car wreck and almost died from it. It was one of those moments when I reevaluated my life,” said Hanson. “I was unhappy with what I was doing, but music has always made me happy. So, I got out of programming and started shifting gears into doing music full time, producing and engineering.”

After making the decision to do music full time, Hanson approached many of the studios in Washington, D.C. to get his foot in the door.

“I went to every studio I could find in D.C. to try to find a place that would let me clean toilets and sweep the floor to get in to what I wanted to do,” said Hanson.

Hanson then connected with a local D.C. studio owner and was thrust into the spotlight very quickly.

“The first session I did, the band that came in hired a producer and engineer to head the project. He ended up having a family emergency and had to leave. The band looked at me and asked me if I could finish the project, and I finished my first record right there,” said Hanson. “After that, my boss Jim Fox, saw what I was doing and everything snowballed from there.”

After his work in D.C., Hanson actually went back to school at Middle Tennessee State University to finish his recording degree and made the move to the Nashville area.

When Hanson finished his tenure at MTSU, Hanson got his first job in Nashville with Ocean Way Studios. While working at Ocean way, Hanson got to produce and engineer legendary artists such as Emmylou Harris, The Black Crowes, Diamond Rio, and gospel singer Kirk Franklin. From his work at Ocean Way, Hanson got a phone call from Scott Hendricks, at the time the president of Capitol Records, and began engineering and producing all of Hendricks’ artists for many years.

“Scott really taught me how to listen properly and how to produce to the best of my ability. I learned so much from him, and I got to work with so many different artists during that tenure.”

Those artists include Restless Heart, Ronnie Milsap, and Clay Davidson, to name a few. Hanson also worked with Flaco Jiménez and Sonia Dada.

From that point on, Hanson has been one of the go-to engineers and producers for all of the major labels, working with Virgin, RCA, Capitol, Sony, and many other labels in Nashville.

These days Hanson focuses on developing independent and up-and-coming artists.

“I love finding new artists and working on a project from the ground up. There is nothing like that feeling of being apart of something like that and watching it bloom and succeed, “ said Hanson.

Michael continues to be an in-demand producer and engineer in Nashville. With all of the success he has already had in the music industry, Hanson remains to be on top of his game, and he’s not slowing down anytime soon.

Contact Michael Hanson at hanson_michael@comcast.net