Successful producers are good examples if we want to demonstrate that making successful music has nothing to do with luck, and that it can be learned. Unfortunately many of those producers are responsible for most of the bad music that you’ll find in the Top 40, and only a minority of them has been responsible for the good stuff that has been created during the past 50 years.
A good example of a highly successful producer is Martin Karl Sandberg, better known as Max Martin. As of 2015, he’s had 21 number one hits in the US since 1999, that’s more than one number one hit a year in average. Plus a huge number of Top 40 hits that didn’t make it to the number one spot of course. He not only produces most of the songs, but also writes or co-writes them in many cases.
You’ll notice that he’s responsible for a large number of songs you probably hate, but you will have to accept that this guy is highly talented when it comes to producing songs that are very popular among teens and the masses. In the 1990s he worked with Rednex, Ace of Base, Backstreet Boys (Quit Playing Games With My Heart, I Want It That Way), Westlife, and many others. In 1999 he brought us Britney Spears (well, thanks for that), in fact he wrote and co-produced her number one song …Baby One More Time. More songs with Spears followed, such as Oops!... I Did It Again (2000) and I’m Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman (2002).
In 2008 he brought us Katy Perry (hooray!) – he (co-)produced and / or (co-)wrote I Kissed a Girl, Hot ’n’ Cold, Teenage Dream, California Gurls, Last Friday Night, plus some more songs such as Roar. Since 2012 he’s also working with Taylor Swift.
During his career he wrote, co-wrote, produced, or co-produced number one songs for Britney Spears, ’N Sync, Katy Perry, P!nk, Kelly Clarkson, Maroon 5, Taylor Swift, and The Weeknd.
He’s probably the single most influential person in pop music and the Top 40 since the late 1990s. If you’re a singer and you quickly need a hit, then you call Max Martin.
You may not like the music he’s doing, but you’ll have to admit that he’s highly successful and he clearly demonstrates that making successful music can be learned.
You can’t argue that this guy has just been “lucky” – he exactly knows what he’s doing, and I can guarantee you that he’ll continue to be very, very successful in future, until he may just lose interest in the whole thing one day.
Max Martin may be one of the most successful producers, but he’s not the only one. There are a bunch of similar producers nowadays (who are now also often DJs), and those guys are responsible for the vast majority of the music you’ll find in today’s charts. Just google the most successful musicians you’ll find in the singles charts, and you’ll notice that it’s quite a limited number of producers and DJs who are (co-)writing their songs and producing them.
This may also explain why all of today’s music sounds the same by the way – most of today’s chart music is being created by quite a small number of people pulling the strings in the background. There are almost no independent artists who create all of their music on their own anymore.
It is also quite interesting to see that while some producers have been responsible for some of the most hated songs you ever heard, others have been doing quite good stuff over time. It seems that most producers have learned to be successful in their own domain, either by doing good, okay, or purely commercial music. Some also manage to do real good stuff from time to time, even if their main business is to create mass-compatible teen pop. In chapter 6 – which will teach you how to produce and to record your music – I will tell you more about the role of the producer, and you’ll learn more about some producers who have actually been responsible for some really great music. Not all producers write or co-write songs for artists they’re working with, and the role of the producer is often misunderstood.
As for now, I just want you to understand the following;
BECOMING SUCCESSFUL IN THE MUSIC BUSINESS REQUIRES HAVING A VISION AND A STRATEGY, WHILE IT HAS TO DO VERY LITTLE WITH HAVING LUCK.
AND THIS IS NOT ONLY TRUE IF YOU PRODUCE CHEAP CHART POP, IT WILL ALSO BE TRUE IF YOU INTEND TO BECOME A REAL ARTIST AND IF YOU PLAN TO WRITE GREAT MUSIC.
You can either have a strategy to become successful with commercial Top 40 crap, or you can have a strategy to become successful by making high quality music. Both options will require learning some rules, having some kind of a plan, and taking some action of course. There are some very good reasons to opt for making good music instead of Top 40 crap, and you’ll learn about those reasons quite soon.