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TAKING HITMAKING TO THE MAX

Max Martin is unquestionably the preeminent songwriter/producer of the modern era, having strung together eight #1 singles and 11 Top 40 radio chart-toppers in the last two years alone. This streak comprises the crowning touch in the two-decade career of the 44-year-old Swede; his 21 chart-topping singles as a writer rank second all-time to Lennon and McCartney

Since relocating to L.A. a few years back, Martin—whose protégés include Dr. Luke—has received five consecutive ASCAP Songwriter of the Year awards and the 2015 Grammy for Best Producer. 

The press-shy Martin has made a career out of playing under the radar, so he doesn’t celebrate the fact that his West Hollywood complex has become the absolute center of the pop world. He also understands the nuances of the music biz: Insiders say that his business strategy of aligning himself with the top radio-promotion teams is not accidental. He’s said to have given props to Republic’s promo staff for shepherding all of his recent hits apart from the three with Capitol’s Katy Perry to their rarefied chart peaks. And since songwriters’ income from mechanicals has been so dramatically reduced as the streaming model continues to get traction, the performance money in the American market has become increasingly important for writers. None of this detail escapes Martin’s attention.

Most recently, modern pop’s leading hitmaker has been racking up sales and spins on projects with Ellie Goulding, Demi Lovato and The Weeknd. He was also heavily involved with Ariana Grande’s My Everything.

Martin's West Hollywood complex has become
the absolute center of the pop world. 

Taylor Swift’s 1989, for which Martin co-wrote and produced nine out of 13 songs, was the best-selling album of 2014 with just short of 4m sold in the U.S. alone, moving a jaw-dropping 1.3m in its first week. Martin also worked on 10 songs from Perry’s 13-track PRISM, which served as the first #1 chart bow for CMG under Steve Barnett’s new regime. Keep in mind that he was a major player on Perry’s Teenage Dream and Swift’s RED as well.

For a complete rundown of Martin’s 2014-15 hot streak, see the diagram below. 

What’s in the queue? There’s Selena Gomez’s “Hands to Myself,” off her just-released Revival, along with Nick Jonas’ unreleased “Under You” and Lovato’s title track on Confident; the latter is currently in the Top 20 at Pop radio and growing. Word has it he’s also collaborated with Goulding on her upcoming album, Delirium, as well as Adele on her highly anticipated Q4 release, 25. “On My Mind,” the lead single from Delirium, is currently Top 10 at Pop radio and has already sold 260k RTD; the track was co-written and co-produced by Martin.

This is just the most recent chapter in his book of successes. In 1995, he broke out of obscurity, notably with Backstreet Boys’ “Quit Playing Games (With My Heart),” which he produced and co-wrote. Two years later, Backstreet returned with Backstreet’s Back, an album which had four Max Martin-assisted tracks, including “As Long As You Love Me,” which he co-wrote, and “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back),” which he produced and co-wrote.

The following year, Martin started working with NSYNC, co-writing and producing “I Want You Back” and co-writing “Tearin’ Up My Heart.” And then, of course, there was Britney. “...Baby One More Time,” which was solely written and co-produced by Martin, was his very first chart-topper, reaching #1 in every country it charted in, including the U.K., where it became the top-selling song of the year. With more than 10m sold worldwide, it remains one of the biggest singles of all time.

After “Baby” came a tidal wave of smashes, including Backstreet Boys’ “I Want It That Way” and “Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely,” Spears’ “(You Drive Me) Crazy,” “Oops!... I Did It Again.” “Stronger” and “Lucky,” NSYNC’s “It’s Gonna Be Me,” Celine Dion’s “That’s the Way It Is” and Bon Jovi’s “It’s My Life.”

Putting his accomplishments in perspective, Martin’s name now belongs alongside those of such legendary writer/producers as Leiber & Stoller, Phil Spector, Holland-Dozier-Holland and Gamble & Huff, making him the only active member of an exclusive club. And his remarkable streak shows no signs of letting up.

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