Producer and music industry impresario Michael Knox has worked in various capacities over the course of his career. He launched his Nashville song-plugging company HIT PLUGGERS in 1992 and then went on to work with Warner Chappell Music for a decade, which introduced him to the studio. He’s produced with and for a number of artists including Jason Aldean, Trace Adkins and Carrie Underwood. He continues his longtime association with peermusic and hosts KNOX Country 360, his weekly syndicated radio show. Interesting aside: his father was Buddy Knox, the tunesmith behind the 1957 hit “Party Doll.”
His first real client was multi-platinum country music star Jason Aldean. But despite his potential, it took Knox five years of shopping him around to various labels before a home was found. He then transitioned seamlessly into the role of producer with the 2005 inaugural release of Jason Aldean. “It was a tough first five years,” he recalls. “We had record deals but got dropped.
“For a long time in the nineties, [Nashville] was a real belt-buckle, hat-act town,” he continues. “I was looking for the next generation country guy; the Bon Jovi of the genre. I went to Macon, GA to see some acts and Jason was the last to go on. Once I saw his performance, I knew he was what I was looking for. I brought him to Nashville and six months later signed him to Warner Chappell. He dressed real traditional, so I told him to come back as if he were going on a date. He walked in the next day wearing baggy jeans, non-cowboy boots and a lot of jewelry. No belt buckle or starched shirt. I knew that was the look for him because that was the way country was going..”
Knox’s approach to working with an artist is to find their strength or core and then assemble a supporting framework around it. “When I go into the studio, I build a team that is uniquely for a specific artist,” he explains. “With Jason, I put a rock band together around him because he wanted to be country rock. It took a few years to build. I found guys who lived in Nashville but had a touring rock background. They lived a country lifestyle, so it was believable but they grew up on rock & roll. I do that with other artists too. It’s all about the music and the songs; what they can pull off.”
When Music Connection spoke with Knox he was closing out Aldean’s 15-track album Macon, which dropped in mid-November. The companion album Georgia is planned for release in April, 2022. Through his label Music Knox Records, he’s working on new material with Tim Montana, whose album Long Shots came out in 2021. Lastly, he’s producing with American Idol’s 17th season winner Laine Hardy. With his enviable output, he’s likely among the most prolific producers in Nashville and his future shines with equal promise.
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