NY Times' Joe Coscarelli got five hit-making producers to break down exactly how they made the songs that catapulted them into global fame with radio- and chart- dominating singles. From where they were when they came up with melodies to the biggest challenges they faced while producing it to how they went about working with the vocalist, these producers share - in their own words - how these hit songs were born.

The D.J. duo the Chainsmokers, with the singer Daya at center. Credit Rory Kramer

“Don’t Let Me Down,” the third platinum-selling single since 2014 by the D.J. duo the Chainsmokers, has been streamed online more than half a billion times. The song’s title and singer may not be familiar — its easily hummable vocals are performed by Daya, a mostly unknown teenager from Pittsburgh. But it’s the beat, and therefore its producers, that are the stars.

No longer relegated to the liner notes, digital composers in the genres of electronic dance music and hip-hop — both now firmly ensconced at pop music’s center — often take top billing on their tracks, even if the featured guest is Justin Bieber.

So even in this moment of dominant solo idols — Beyoncé, Drake, Rihanna — there exists a less instantly recognizable realm of rising studio superstars that have leapt from the depths of SoundCloud or the E.D.M. heap into the upper echelon of influence, dominating radio play and landing high-profile festival appearances. Acts like the Chainsmokers, along with Diplo, Disclosure, Calvin Harris and even the rap figurehead DJ Khaled have proven reliable hitmakers as lead artists, frequently employing their industry friends to carry the tune while laboring in partial obscurity.

Benefiting from the cross-pollination of regions and genres, these collaborations can introduce the featured artists to new audiences, with rappers and crooners crossing over among dance-pop aficionados. But the producers are pulling the strings and rightly taking much of the credit.

“As soon as someone like David Guetta said ‘This is my song,’ more producers wanted to be known beyond insider music circles,” said Sharon Dastur, senior vice president for programming at the pop-radio giant iHeartMedia. And because many of the producers perform internationally as D.J.’s, “they see what that next up-and-coming beat or sound or instrument is and they incorporate it into songs that become huge pop hits, cutting through by being more unique.”

Below, three beatmakers — the Chainsmokers, the Australian producer Flume and the more left-field Clams Casino, a former physical therapy student turned producer for the Weeknd and A$AP Rocky — discuss how some of their biggest collaborations came to be...

... Read the full article by JOE COSCARELLI at nytimes.com

Join The Conversation