Martin Karl “Max Martin” Sandberg
POWER MOVE: How does one remain the most in-demand pop songwriter for more than a decade? By constantly updating your sound and collaborators, in the way that Max Martin has done.
The reclusive Swede -- who penned many of the biggest hits for the Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears and ’N Sync -- had his most diverse year yet in 2012, co-writing smashes for Maroon 5 (“One More Night”), Usher (“Scream”) and Christina Aguilera (“Your Body”) with new right-hand man Shellback, as well as contributing production skills for Nicki Minaj (“Va Va Voom”), Katy Perry (“Part of Me,” “Wide Awake”), Justin Bieber (“Beauty and the Beat”) and Ke$ha (“C’mon”). It’s no surprise that Martin was named ASCAP songwriter of the year in 2011 and 2012 (his first back-to-back honors since he won the title in 1999, 2000 and 2001). It’s also no shock that Martin and his collaborators at production house Maratone and publishing arm MXM helped boost the 2012 market share for his publisher Kobalt in both total revenue and the top 40.
Martin’s creative influence is stronger than ever. He not only guided Taylor Swift in making the leap into pure pop, but also encouraged her to make “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” one of the most-referenced song titles in recent memory. “I’ve always been fascinated by how Max Martin can just land a chorus,” Swift told Billboard in October. “He comes at you, and hits you, and it’s a chorus -- all caps, with exclamation points.”