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Hitmakers

Our annual Hitmakers issue puts a spotlight on the artists, labels, executives, producers, publishers, sound mixers, engineers, managers and marketing mavens behind the year’s 25 most consumed songs. 


How Elton John and Dua Lipa’s ‘Cold Heart’ Pulsed to Life — and Became a Surprise Global Hit

On a chilly March evening in New York City, two friends were experiencing an unusual synchronicity. Onstage at Madison Square Garden, Dua Lipa was…

  • Features

Dua Lipa’s ‘Levitating’ Reaches Lofty Heights

Dua Lipa’s 2020 sophomore album, “Future Nostalgia,” is loaded with dance-pop hits, but few have had the resonance of “Levitating.” One of two songs…

  • News

BeatStars Is Making Bank for Its Stable of Music Creators

That Lil Nas X spent all of $30 to purchase the beat for “Old Town Road” has become the stuff of music-industry legend. As…

  • News

‘Unholy’ Matrimony: How Sam Smith and Kim Petras’ Queer Anthem Became an Overnight Success

Overnight success was a long time coming for Kim Petras. After a decade navigating every rung of the music industry, she finally hit the…

  • News

‘About Damn Time’ to Dance: Lizzo’s Infectious Hit Is Variety’s Record of the Year

Lizzo knows a hit when she hears one. In January, the artist’s fourth studio album, “Special,” was almost complete after three years of recording…

  • News

Selena Gomez Talks About the Message of Empathy Behind Her Hit Song, ‘My Mind & Me’

In “My Mind & Me,” the title track of Selena Gomez’s Apple TV+ documentary, she sings, “If somebody sees me like this, then they…

  • News

With ‘Evergreen,’ Omar Apollo Embraces His Inner Sad Core, and TikTok Can’t Get Enough

When Omar Apollo finished recording “Evergreen (You Didn’t Deserve Me at All),” the 25-year-old did not expect it to become his first charting single.…

  • News

Atlantic Records Chiefs Julie Greenwald and Craig Kallman Talk Lizzo, Jack Harlow, Their Big 2022, and What’s Next

Motown in the 1960s? Warner Bros. Records in the 1970s and ‘80s? One has to look back decades to find a record company that…

  • News

From ‘Wait For U’ to ‘Wakanda Forever,’ Future Is Having a Fruitful, Collab-Heavy Year

The list of artists who benefited from Future’s Midas touch reads like a veritable who’s who of hip-hop: Megan Thee Stallion, Dreezy, Hit-Boy, Earthgang,…

  • News

Imagine Dragons on How Working With Rick Rubin Prompted the Band’s ‘Most Honest’ Record Yet

Imagine Dragons have been churning out hits since the release of their 2012 debut “Night Visions.” Their anthems have flooded the airwaves, while five…

  • News

How ‘Big Energy’ Helped Latto Capture the Charts — and a Grammys Best New Artist Nod

With the female rap renaissance in full bloom, it’s only right the self-proclaimed Queen of the South ruled the charts this year. Thanks to…

  • News

Steve Lacy on Becoming 2022’s Big Genre-Crossing Musical Breakout: ‘I Didn’t Have to Dim My Light’

Steve Lacy is one of those feel-good-about-music-again success stories, so it’s no wonder he just picked up four Grammy nominations, including record and song…

  • News

Selena Gomez Teases ‘Empowering’ New Music and More Takeaways From Variety’s Hitmakers Ceremony

Dua Lipa, Selena Gomez, Jack Harlow and more of music’s brightest stars celebrated the year’s best songs and the industry’s top execs, artists and…

  • News

With Gayle’s ‘Abcdefu,‘ Kara DioGuardi’s Run as a Top A&R Executive Enters Third Decade

Since founding Arthouse Entertainment in Los Angeles with business partner Stephen Finfer, Kara DioGuardi has approached her roster of songwriters, producers and artists with…

  • News

From the Grammys to the Super Bowl, How Jesse Collins Became Hollywood’s Go-To Producer

Before producer Robert Townsend chose Jesse Collins to write for the WB Network comedy “The Parent ’Hood” in 1997, the opportunities were few and…

  • News

Manager of the Year Ebonie Ward Pushes Positivity With Roster That Includes Future, Gunna and Flo Milli

Ebonie Ward is used to being the only woman in the room. This was the case long before she gained prominence as the manager…

  • News

Harry Styles‘ ’House’ Had Some Roommates: Kid Harpoon and Tyler Johnson on Making 2022’s Most Ubiquitous Single, ‘As It Was’

As is evident from his recent arena residency shows on both coasts, Harry Styles knows the value of a good band. But it’s not…

  • News

How Sony Music Publishing’s Amy Coles Helped Kate Bush’s ‘Running Up That Hill’ Become the Runaway Hit of 2022

Syncs have long been a powerful tool for exposure when it comes to songs. There’s Lizzo’s “Truth Hurts” in the Netflix movie “Someone Great”…

  • News

Audio Engineers Have the Ears of the Artists — And Now a Piece of the Project

When Cory Litwin joined Neil Jacobson’s writer-producer management agency, Hallwood Media, as executive VP two years ago, he brought with him a known quantity:…

  • News

Ryan Tedder Whistled While He Worked: OneRepublic’s Frontman on Crafting a ‘Top Gun’ Soundtrack Smash With ‘I Ain’t Worried’

It was taken as a given, early this year, that the “Top Gun: Maverick” soundtrack would deliver a worldwide hit. That belief came true,…

  • News

Hitmaker Ricky Reed Shares the Step-By-Step Process Behind Lizzo’s Smash ‘About Damn Time’

High on a terrifyingly steep and narrow street in the Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, inside an unassuming house that turns out to…

  • News

Atlantic U.K. Co-President Ed Howard on Ed Sheeran’s Rise From Couch Crasher to Global Superstar

Not much is left to chance in an Ed Sheeran campaign these days, but his label deal actually sprang from a random encounter.  Call…

  • Global

‘Carved Out’: Is a Music Industry Holdover From the Old Guard Sidelining Female Executives?

The music industry loudly made promises for change in 2017, when #MeToo swept the entertainment business, and 2020, when George Floyd’s murder at the…

  • News