Bad Blood. Can’t Feel My Face. We Are Never Getting Back Together. California Gurls. And about 20 other Billboard top 100 number 1 hits. The common factor between these songs? Forty-six-year-old Swedish music producer Max Martin: the pop music industry’s best kept secret. Born Karl Martin Sandberg in Stockholm Sweden in 1971, Martin had a simple upbringing, went to public school in a suburb, and enjoyed playing music.
His fascination with music started with metal, and he was in a variety of swedish metal bands in the 1980s. He dropped out of school to pursue playing in bands full time, but eventually made his way over to producing music for Cheiron Studios and Denniz PoP. “I didn’t even know what a producer did, I spent two years, day and night, in that studio trying to learn what the hell was going on.” Martin recalls.
The Swede eventually worked his way to the top, landing producing jobs for Britney Spears and The Backstreet Boys. Songs like “Baby One More Time” and “I Want It That Way” skyrocketed Martin’s career into music industry royalty.
Martin is the now the most sought after producer in the pop industry today and is known as “the Obi-Wan” and “the reclusive master.” Martin has written number one hits for artists such as Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, Celine Dion, Kelly Clarkson, Pink, Usher, Jessie J, Christina Aguilera, Ariana Grande, The Weeknd and many more. The reclusive master has engineered 22 number one hits, second only to John Lennon and Paul McCartney, but has more top ten hits than anyone in history. He has also won songwriter of the year at the ASCAP Music Awards for seven consecutive years and was inducted into the Songwriters Hall Of Fame in 2015.
Despite all his great success, hardly anyone outside of the industry has heard of Martin. The public loves to believe that pop singers write their own songs, and Martin has mastered the art of the incognito ghostwriter. “My life is so much easier without the attention. I meet people who have so many problems related to that kind of stuff.” said Martin.
These days, Martin spends most of his time at his Los Angeles mansion (once owned by Frank Sinatra and Marilyn Monroe) with his wife and kids. He continues to write hit singles for pop stars (most recently Taylor Swift’s “Reputation”) without having to deal with the negative aspects of fame.