Names Behind the Music: Songwriter Producer Max Martin

Never heard of Max Martin? Even if you don’t recognize the name, you undoubtedly know his music if you’ve ever listened to Britney Spears, Katy Perry, Pink, Bon Jovi or Usher. Those are only a few of the artists who have recorded Martin’s songs. In fact, befitting his status as one of the big names behind contemporary music, he has his own fan website.

Although the Swedish songwriter came into the world in 1971 as Martin Sandberg, he changed his name to Martin White when he became a performer in high school. At the age of 21, he joined Cheiron Studios as a writer producer, collaborating with his mentor and head of Cheiron Denniz Pop. It was Pop who changed his name yet again to Max Martin.

In the mid 90’s, Jive Records contacted the duo about a new boy band called the Backstreet Boys. That led to Martin’s first American hit, Quit Playing Games (With My Heart).

In 1998, Pop died of cancer and Martin took over Cheiron with a new writing/producing partner Rami. When Britney Spears debuted in 1999, a song Martin wrote, Baby One More Time, became his first number one in the U.S. That same year, Martin scored once more with the Backstreet Boys. His major songs on the Millennium album included I Want It That Way and Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely.

Martin won ASCAP’s Songwriter of the Year in 1999, 2000 and most recently in 2011 with co-writer Lukasz “Dr. Luke” Gottwald. You can check out a photo on Zimbio of the pair accepting the latest ASCAP award, posing with Ke$ha and Adam Lambert. Yes, Martin co-wrote Lambert’s Whaya Want From Me with Pink and Shellback (the stage name of Karl Johan Schuster).

In 2001, he and a partner opened a music production company in Stockholm called Maratone. Over the years, he has kept on accumulating hits, also writing for Celine Dionne (That’s The Way It Is), Kelly Clarkson (Since U Been Gone co-written with Gottwald), Bon Jovi (It’s My Life), Usher (DJs Got Us Falling In Love) and Pink (Raise Your Glass), the latter two also co-written by Shellback.

The Max Martin fansite lists 12 number ones on the Billboard Hot 100 including five for Katy Perry: I Kissed A Girl in 2008, California Girls in 2010, Teenage Dream also in 2010, E.T. in 2011 and Last Friday Night, another in 2011. That’s not even counting his long list of credits on IMBD for film and television tracks.

Although he only turned 40 in 2011, Martin is already a household name in the music industry. Luckily for pop music lovers, this amazing hit machine is still going strong.


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