The World’s Largest Pop Star: Max Martin

Who is Max Martin? Well, just look at his production discography. I know its Wikipedia, but you get the idea. The dude is the world’s biggest pop star, and no one knows who he is, not even his biggest fans. (lol)

Max Martin has written more #1 Billboard singles than Madonna and Michael Jackson. He has sold 135,433,000 singles. (Hollywood Reporter) Katy Perry essentially owes her musical fame to Max Martin. (Quick sidenote; not all pop stars are talentless robots who follow every record label’s direction.) Now, with that disclaimer out of the way, most pop stars are faces. Figureheads. Illusions. Pick your poison. All they do is sing and dance as they’re suppose to. They sell records because their image is marketable. Why would a record label risk an investment on a pop star when they can contract Max Martin to write the song? The label knows that Martin will produce a hit, then the label uses their visually and vocally appealing star to sell the record. That is pop music in a nutshell. I know I’ve covered this formula before.

Photo by Mark Davis/PictureGroup) via AP IMAGES

Photo by Mark Davis/PictureGroup) via AP IMAGES

Publicity. Max Martin doesn’t have a lot of it. In the video I featured above, it seems as though Max Martin has only conducted two interviews. The man who has sold 135,433,000 singles, has only done two interviews. I just did a piece on Drake refusing to do more interviews since his cover story for Rolling Stone was replaced by Phillip Seymour Hoffman. That to me, is the difference between the star, and the producer. The producer does not receive the publicity for his songs, and the stars do. But thats how some producers want it. They want to make music, and thats it. However, you do have other producers who want the fame as well. (See: DJ Khaled). In Drake’s defense, he does write a lot of his own lyrics.

This is not new though. There was the hit factory that appeared in New York City in the 1950’s. The music industry has been a production center for 100 years. A lot of music is more of a “product” than an “art piece”. In my mind, if the song is written specifically to make $$$, it is a product. If the song is made for personal pleasure, maybe with an audience in mind, that is art. It was made for personal expression, not just the dollars.

I see this hit-writing factory as two separate entities. You have the song writers, such as Max Martin, writing the music, then you have publicity and management teams doing the other work.

Side 1) Music
Side 2) Management & Publicity

Those are the two pieces of a pop star. The pop star’s image is molded by their music and publicity team. The publicity and management team of a pop are almost as essential as the song writer, because without the publicity, no one will discover the star’s new pop hit.


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