If Gottwald’s attention to chart detail sounds a little bit (as his nickname might suggest) scientific, he’s positively a rocket engineer when it comes to the arts and sciences that take place inside the studio control room, where he’s known as a genial perfectionist nonpareil. He sweats the small stuff. But that sonic fussiness hasn’t gotten him bogged down so much that it’s kept him from racking up the most commercially enviable career in pop production at the moment.
Stats speak even louder than beats. On the Billboard Hot 100 right now, he’s responsible as a co-writer and co-producer for 40% of the top 10: Taio Cruz’s “Dynamite” (No. 3), Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream” (No. 2) and “California Gurls” (No. 7), and Ke$ha’s “Take It Off” (No. 10), which is defying a fourth-single slump. (He would have claimed half the top 10 if B.o.B and Rivers Cuomo’s “Magic” hadn’t slipped 11-10.) He can claim four of Billboard’s 20 top-selling digital singles of all time, with Ke$ha’s 5 million-selling “TiK ToK,” Flo Rida’s “Right Round,” Perry’s “Hot N Cold” and Miley Cyrus’ “Party in the U.S.A.”
Then there are the earlier smashes that might’ve made that list had they been released later in the digital singles sales revolution, like Kelly Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone” and “Behind These Hazel Eyes,” seminal collaborations with mentor Max Martin that put him on the pop map five years ago. That Gottwald was named ASCAP’s songwriter of the year in April probably counts as a performing-rights no-brainer.
In the coming months, Gottwald will co-executive produce Britney Spears’ 2011 project, alongside Martin. For his own label, Kemosabe, whose sole release so far is Ke$ha’s “Animal,” he’ll be working with his latest signings, female singers Sabi and Sophia Black. Meanwhile, taking off his executive hat, he’s still involved in plenty of production one-offs, like an upcoming single for British powerhouse vocalist Jessie J (who co-wrote “Party in the U.S.A.” for herself before sacrificing it to Cyrus).