Since the site’s relaunch in 2014, Hanson.net members have had the opportunity to get “pins” – similar to video game achievements, members have the opportunity to “level up” and get exclusive pins on the website based on different actions taken on the website or events attended in real life. With the 2020 re-relaunch we decided to make a guide of all the pins and how to obtain them.
We have great memories from our 2020 Christmas Ball stream, including the return of some epic Christmas sweaters.
Signs and letters left at the 3CG office door after the Against The World + shows. Thanks for always supporting us.
Happy birthday, Isaac!
Drummers Rick Allen and Zac Hanson join the show to promote the 12 Drummers Drumming charity auction for The Raven Drum Foundation. They discuss helping veterans deal with PTSD through drumming, starting their careers in music as children, the genius of Charlie Watts, getting Ringo Starr to sign a drum kit, getting a standing ovation at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction, playing in a band with family, why the Bon Scott lineup of AC/DC was one of the best live bands ever, and so much more! Go to 12Drummersdrumming.org for a chance to bid!
Happy birthday to Isaac Hanson, who turns 41 years old on Wednesday.
More than 25 years after Isaac, Taylor and Zac Hanson’s first performance at Mayfest, they have seen the world, played “MMMBop” more times than they can fathom and built an enormous and fervent fanbase.
The creativity of the Tulsa-native brothers, so many years after they started their career as pre-teens, shows no signs of slowing.
Take a look back at photos of them through the years.
Isaac and Zac say “Hey” during group vocals for the upcoming album, releasing in 2022.
The band that brought the world “MMMBop” also created the first massive web-native superfan club—which continues to pay dividends today.
It’s hard to comprehend the enormity of Hanson’s 1997 smash “MMMBop” in today’s content-stuffed world. Back then, that one song topped charts in 27 countries simultaneously and turned three brothers from Oklahoma into superstars overnight.
Given the tune’s undeniable virality, it’s even harder to comprehend how little Hanson’s label cared about the band’s web presence.
“They were like, ‘Internet, schminternet’ … nobody had any interest whatsoever when that started,” Taylor Hanson tells me. “So we basically began to develop a direct-to-fan membership fan club and active public website without any hindrances, without any engagement from the label.”
By 1999, the band had launched Hanson.net, a paid-membership portal that gave users all sorts of exclusive content. They received their own “@hanson.net” email accounts and congregated in semi-private online spaces. And these fans—superfans, that is—even had the ability to make their own web sites and profile pages.
In other words, Hanson created something like a social network, years ahead of Myspace, well before Mark Zuckerberg even got his driver’s license. And none of the band’s corporate overlords tried to come in and gobble it up.
“There was a moment where this emerging possibility was there, where the industry that was the most fragile—music—could’ve adopted this new way of talking to people,” Taylor tells me. “But because it’s been dominated by a corporate power structure … they’re thinking in quarters, they’re thinking in stock prices … they don’t have any R&D happening.”
That sort of corporate myopia served Hanson well, enabling the brothers to build out their fan club without undue encumbrance. Critically, this growing web presence allowed the them to keep building their brand and connecting with audiences all around the world.
To be sure, many bands built thriving direct-to-consumer businesses even earlier. The Grateful Dead pulled it off with hard ticket sales starting in the 1980s and Radiohead did it with online profiles in the early 1990s. Indeed, a handful of acts used email databases and listservs to connect with fans in those days. But Hanson was perhaps the first to do so at a grand scale through the world wide web.
Then the shine of “MMMBop” wore off, and record companies didn’t know what to do with a bunch of long-haired teenagers from Tulsa singing Motown-style songs. And, at the time, the labels were too consumed with buying and selling each other to figure it out.
Eventually Hanson got offloaded onto Island Def Jam, and it seemed the group was at risk of being lost in the shuffle alongside acts like Jay-Z and DMX. But the brothers had a major advantage: they weren’t locked into an all-encompassing deal.
“Now, if you sign a deal to any major company … people are doing 360,” says Taylor. “The label’s trying to take a piece of the record, a piece of the touring, a piece of the merch. And a lot of times they’re grabbing the ownership of the URL, the likely website URL, which is really scary for the band.”
Rather than fall into record label purgatory as an eternal afterthought, Hanson went independent shortly after the turn of the Millennium. And why not? The group had direct access to its audience, as well a measure of built-in financial stability through the fan club (which costs $40 for a one-year subscription).
So, when Facebook and its ilk arrived, Hanson didn’t feel pressure to give away exclusive content in hopes of monetizing down the line, as so many others now do. The brothers had their own social network, with an audience willing to compensate them for their creative output.
Hanson also had access to details most bands didn’t, particularly when it came to the makeup of its superfan base. The band could see who ordered the most merch, which cities they lived in, and more. Such information played a crucial part in devising tour schedules, allowing the band to concentrate its earning power.
“We actually knew that we have this many fans in Israel, we knew that we have this many fans in Sweden,” says Taylor. “They’re going to show up at the radio station, they’re going to the show. Leveraging that is always really hard, but we basically had a picture, for the first time in modern history, of a kind of real time engagement metric.”
And it worked. Unlike so many bands doomed to the annals of history, Hanson has continued to record, tour and innovate—all independently. Hanson still packs rooms like the 2,900-seat Beacon Theater in New York, and does even better abroad, playing to crowds of 6,000-7,000 in South America and Australia.
In addition to touring constantly (in the Before Times, anyway) and putting out new records regularly, Hanson launched its own Mmmhops beer and Hop Jam festival. And, after a cancellation last year due to the pandemic, Hanson.net members can once again join the group for an annual weeklong event in Jamaica this winter.
“We’re a band that can play most places in the world,” says Taylor. “It’s a strong global fan base, but the amount of engagement that we see from that fan base is exponentially higher than the average band.”
That’s because Hanson doesn’t just have a fan base, it has a superfan base, one with clear lines of communication for maintaining and monetizing the relationship. And all entrepreneurs can draw inspiration from this playbook—whether they helped invent social media or not.
In 2022, Hanson will celebrate 30 years as a band. It’s a remarkable accomplishment for any group, let alone one whose members ranged from age six to 11. The group was propelled to success in its earliest days on the strength of its 1997’s Middle of Nowhere, a multi-platinum debut. Hanson’s seventh’s studio release, Against the World, arrived earlier this month. At first glance, the title is downright confrontational, though Taylor Hanson explains that the name is intended to reflect a kind of underdog status adopted by the group. It’s a strange notion, for band that has seen such high highs, but intervening years have forced the group to forge its own path in the often difficult to navigate world of the music business.
The members of pop rock band Hanson – brothers Taylor Hanson (vocals/keyboards), Isaac Hanson (guitar/bass) and Zac Hanson (drums) – rose to fame as teens with their 1997 worldwide hit “MMMBop.” Since then, they’ve managed to avoid the many personal and professional problems that can plague young artists as they navigate the difficult transition into an artistic career as adults. Earning respect right from the start for writing their own songs and playing their own instruments, they’ve successfully sustained the band (and a harmonious brotherly bond), as they prove with Against the World, their seventh studio album (out on November 5). They’ve even earned a major power pop seal of approval by having Cheap Trick guitarist Rick Nielsen as a guest musician on “Don’t Ever Change,” which was released as a single in June. During a phone call from his Oklahoma home, Taylor Hanson discusses the new album, and explains how determination and keeping a positive attitude have been crucial elements in the band’s longevity.
How did you know it was the right time to do another album now?
TAYLOR HANSON: This record was actually made pre-pandemic. As the pandemic begin to unfold, we sort of stepped back. 2020 was not the year to try and get out there, so we focused on polishing the album and preparing for it to come out in a different way. So I think it’s kind of interesting: it very much presents itself as a project that was written during and through the times we’re in, but it was more predictive then it was prescriptive. I think it’s an album that was fitting for this time.
How did you get Rick Nielsen to play on “Don’t Ever Change”?
TAYLOR HANSON: We’ve been making records for years, and along the way you get to connect with certain people that are legends that you respect. Cheap Trick are an example. I think Rick brought his daughter to see us play years and years ago, when we were in our teens, and then we kept a relationship with Rick. I also had a side project about ten years ago, Tinted Windows, that had Cheap Trick drummer Bun E. Carlos. So that’s another connection point to Cheap Trick. Bun E. is not on the road with Cheap Trick anymore, but he’s a part of that camp. [Tinted Windows also included Smashing Pumpkins guitarist James Iha and Fountains of Wayne multi-instrumentalist Adam Schlesinger.] So when we came to this record, we were looking at songs on the list, and “Don’t Ever Change” is just a total power pop and guitar pop song. It was screaming for that Rick Nielsen touch. So we reached out, and he was gracious enough to want to be a part of it. We felt like it was a blessing.
What was your writing and recording process like this time?
TAYLOR HANSON: Everyone came with strong ideas. We didn’t write nearly as many different songs for this project. It was a little more, “These are the songs that are ready for this time.” We recorded them mostly in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, which is a legendary location. We purposely went there, trying to capture some of the spirit of that place. That was probably one of the best things about the overall project, was just going there, experiencing the energy in that place and building on the positive history that it has. Hopefully you do feel that in these songs. But all the songs really carried a lot of weight. I think the takeaway of the overall record is, [these are] songs about coming through difficulty, and looking for the silver lining. Fighting through things and seeking meaning amidst chaos and challenges. That’s really where the greatest strength lies, to be able to overcome those things.
Where does that grit come from, for you?
TAYLOR HANSON: I think all people have inside of them the ability to withstand difficulty. Otherwise, none of us would have made it very far! We definitely had to choose to stick to our guns, to stick to things we believe in, regardless of whether everyone understands your creative vision. We definitely grew up in a family realizing that difficulty was a part of the package. That was something that was always taught to us growing up. I’m getting much closer to forty than I am to thirty, and some of the greatest experiences and most meaningful experiences have come through doing difficult work and moments where you could have chosen to say, “This is too hard” and not fight, that would be easier. Those situations where the choice was made to withstand or push through or to find a way to overcome adversity, the reward has been given.
That seems like a necessary attitude to have if you’re in the music business, in particular. As you grew up, how did you know you should be a professional musician, instead of maybe thinking it was something other people thought you should do?
TAYLOR HANSON: For me, it was pretty simple, as far as the recognition of deciding to work on music and have that “push through it” attitude, because at a really young age, I could sing easily and harmonize – that was something that just was in the DNA. And I saw how people would respond to it, and I remember thinking, “Well, if others respond positively to this, I could get to do this rare thing that I see can be incredibly impactful.” So once you identify this possibility, this goal, that right there was enough motivation to almost overcome anything. You paint a picture in your head of living out this idea, writing songs, making music, performing – it can reach a lot of people. All the sudden, this picture is this ideal possibility. It’s enough motivation to withstand the naysayers. One of the things about anybody choosing a path is that the universe knows when you’re bluffing. So part of deciding to have longevity is just making no Plan B. A lot of people talk about having a back-up plan. My thought has always been, yeah, it’s wise to know that you can build skills, not just literally have one skill in life. But identify something that you want to be great in, and commit to that. Take all the risks. Throw enough risk into it that your sense of survival is attached to it. Part of longevity is not allowing yourself to hedge your bets and allowing yourself to say, “If this doesn’t work, I’ll just bounce back to the predictable thing.” Say to yourself, “This is what I’m doing and I will stick to it.” It may not be gloriously successful, but the attachment to that mission in and of itself is the deciding factor, because people will gather around that. I really think that you set the tone for what you begin to get from the world. If I walk into a room confident and willing to learn, but also willing to stick to what I believe in, you’d be amazed at how often it attracts others that are hungry for that. We all want to feel like we’re part of something.