In the early 2000s, Orlando, Florida was home base for some of the biggest names in music.
Many of today’s pop stars were catapulted into the limelight out of Orlando, including groups like Backstreet Boys and NSYNC, both of whom were developed and managed by infamous manager, Lou Pearlman.
Fast forward to today: Orlando is home to one of the largest dance and most coveted music festivals in the world, EDC Orlando. “The City Beautiful” also houses some of the best clubs and music scene. It’s not quite a Los Angeles, New York City, or Nashville, but it’s very quickly making its way up there with venues like The Social, The Plaza Live!, House of Blues, and The Abbey.
Before we dive into the list, we need to clarify a couple of things. A few names on this list are music producers, so we want to be clear on what a music producer does and what a “beat maker” does. They’re different.
Beat maker vs. music producer
Music producers are one of the main brains behind the music business. They’re responsible for overseeing an entire production—singles, EPs, and albums—from start to finish. If necessary, they find session musicians, assist in sonic vision, and get the song from a piano/guitar and vocals to a full-fledged piece of art.
The term “music producer” is commonly misused for a “beat maker” in the music business. A music producer is someone who oversees an entire musical project, like the ones mentioned above, and perform a wide array of tasks associated with getting that project completed.
Beat makers, on the other hand, are professionals that make beats. That’s it. A music producer may hire a beat maker to create the beat, chords, and melodies for a track (and they should receive songwriting credit for that!), but they typically don’t go beyond that.
15 musicians and music professionals from Orlando, Florida that impacted music
1. Kane Beatz
Kane Beatz is a music producer and songwriter from Orlando, Florida. During his high school years, he produced music and sold beats online. He was contacted shortly after by Mike Caren, the executive vice president of A&R for Atlantic Records. Caren signed Kane Beatz to a publishing deal with the Atlantic Records.
He has since created his own label called The Building where he’s signed Kief Brown and Jeremy “JMIKE” Coleman.
He has produced songs like “BedRock” by Young Money and Lloyd, “Bottoms Up” by Trey Songz and Nicki Minaj, “The Show Goes On” by Lupe Fiasco, and “Super Bass” by Nicki Minaj, among many others.
2. DJ Nasty and LVM
DJ Nasty and LVM are a production duo from Orlando, Florida, and comprised of brothers Johnny David Mollings and Leonardo V. Mollings. They were born in Cuba, but their dad was in the Navy, so they relocated to Orlando. They made a name for themselves after meeting DJ Khaled and starting Hitmen Productions.
DJ Nasty and LVM are known for their productions of DJ Khaled’s “Wild Thoughts” with Rihanna and Bryson Tiller and “All I Do Is Win,” and “S on My Chest,” which he produced with Kane Beatz, another Orlando native.
XXYYXX, whose real name is Marcel Everett, is an electronic music producer from Orlando, Florida. He’s been producing for more than a decade and created the track “What We Want” for the Grand Theft Auto V video game. Furthermore, he was credited on Tory Lanez’s single “Flex,” which Lanez released as part of his album I Told You.
XXYYXX has also remixed tracks for artists like Tinashe and Usher.
4. Dave Fortman
Dave Fortman is the guitarist for Ugly Kid Joe, a rock band that originated out of Isla Vista, California. His career spans many decades, and Fortman has been pivotal in the evolution of alternative and hard rock music. He has worked with some of the most transformative bands and names in dance music, including Slipknot, Otep, and Evanescence.
Fortman worked on Evanescence’s Fallen album, which went on to receive four Grammy nominations. “Bring Me to Life” was also nominated for Song of the Year and Fallen was nominated for Record of the Year in 2003. Fallen was certified platinum in 33 countries.
5. Ayo the Producer
Ayo the Producer, whose real name is Austin Owens, is a record producer, songwriter, and audio engineer from Orlando, Florida. He has worked with artists like Rick Ross, Cardi B, Wiz Khalifa, Bryson Tiller, and many others, according to HipHopDX. He is one-half of Ayo and Keyz.
Ayo the Producer won a Grammy in 2019 for Best Rap Album for his work on Cardi B’s Invasion of Privacy. In 2020, Ayo and Keyz produced Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s viral hit “WAP.”
6. Lou Pearlman
Lou Pearlman was a record producer and manager. While not from Orlando, Florida, Pearlman had a lot of influence on the Orlando music scene. He is best known for funding and managing global sensations. Backstreet Boys and NSYNC after the Backstreet Boys’ huge success.
Pearlman was a criminal and operated one of the biggest Ponzi schemes in United States history. Over the years, he had amassed more than $300 million in debts. He died in prison on August 19, 2016, at the age of 62.
Founded by Lou Pearlman in Orlando, Florida, NSYNC became a global sensation with the release of their album No Strings Attached, which had songs like “Bye Bye Bye,” “It’s Gonna Be Me,” and “This I Promise You.” The group consisted of Justin Timberlake, JC Chasez, Chris Kirkpatrick, Joey Fatone, and Lance Bass.
No Strings Attached was the best-selling album of 2000, and the second best-selling album of the decade, right behind The Beatles’ 1.
8. Backstreet Boys
Formed, funded, and managed by infamous manager Lou Pearlman, the Backstreet Boys rose to global stardom after the release of their debut album, Backstreet Boys in 1996. They followed up with their sophomore album in 1997 called Backstreet’s Back. The group consists of members AJ McLean, Kevin Richardson, Nick Carter, Howie Dorough, and Brian Littrell.
Pearlman, the group’s manager, posted an advertisement in the Orlando Sentinel saying that he was looking to form a group with a “New Kids on the Block” look and “Boyz II Men sound.” Pearlman named the group after Orlando’s Backstreet Market.
9. Matchbox Twenty
Matchbox Twenty is a rock group that formed in Orlando, Florida in 1995. The band’s members include Rob Thomas, Brian Yale, Paul Doucette, and Kyle Cook. The group rose to fame after the release of their debut album in 1996, Yourself or Someone Like You.
As of June 2022, the band’s Twitter account shared a video confirming that a new album was on the way.
O-Town is a boy band/group originating from Orlando, Florida as part of the reality TV show Make the Band. At the time of their founding, the group consisted of members Erik-Micheael Estrada, Trevor Penick, Jacob Underwood, Ashley Parker Angel, and Ikaika Kahoano. However, Dan Miller replaced Kahoano after Miller dropped out of the group.
The group was founded and originally managed by infamous manager Lou Pearlman during the show’s filming. Mike Cronin and Mike Morin took over the management responsibilities after Pearlman.
11. Matt Heafy
Most notably known for his role as guitarist for the heavy metal band Trivium, Matt Heafy is a guitarist and vocalist from Orlando, Florida. Heafy was voted sixth on the Ultimate Guitar list’s “Top 25 Greatest Frontmen” in 2017.
12. DJ Magic Mike
DJ Magic Mike is a DJ and producer from Orlando, Florida. He made history with his productions in the Miami Bass genre and is the first platinum selling artist from Orlando, according to the Orlando Sentinel. His sound is commonly blended with hip-hop. During his hip-hop days he teamed up with MC Madness as his primary collaborator. DJ Magic Mike went on to collaborate with Sir Mix-a-Lot and Techmaster P.E.B.
DJ Magic Mike has made a big name for himself in the Florida breaks scene, too. He has held a longtime Sunday night residency at the House of Blues at Downtown Disney in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. He continues to tour across the US and around the world.
13. ROB ANALYZE
CEO and founder of Jamvana, Robert Leigh, who performs under the moniker ROB ANALYZE, has been a catalyst to the Orlando music scene. He founded Jamvana in 2008 and has built a strong reputation in Orlando’s music business for all things music distribution, playlist pitching, and music services.
During the summer of 2022, Leigh locked in a big deal with the Orlando Solar Bears hockey team. With this partnership, Jamvana exclusively curates the music for the Solar Bears’ home games at the Amway Center in downtown Orlando. Leigh DJs each of these events as well by tapping into Jamvana’s nearly 1 million sound recordings to keep the energy high for the Solar Bears’ home games.
With his tenacity and work ethic, Leigh will easily climb to the top to become Orlando’s number one talent booker.
AK1200, whose real name is Dave Minner, is a jungle and drum n’ bass songwriter and producer from Orlando, Florida.
He is recognized for his promotion of jungle and drum n bass genres in the United States, sparking an increase in the popularity amongst the genres. He’s done this through his high energy live performances and remixes, as well as performing multiple shows across the country for free to promote the genres.
AK1200 partnered with Dieselboy and DJ Dara to create the annual Planet of the Drums tour.
15. Kimball Collins
Kimball Collins is a trance DJ and producer from Orlando, Florida. He got his start in 1987, and he is recognized for jumpstarting the dance scene in Orlando after his shows at the Beacham Theatre did really well.
In 1993, Collins formed his own PositiVibes Records and has been a pioneer in the ever-evolving dance music scene since.
With Orlando’s budding music scene, this list is sure to grow in the coming years. Festivals like EDC Orlando at Tinker Field and Okeechobee Music and Arts Festival at Sunshine Grove bring music lovers from around the world to the Central Florida area.
If we missed anybody, leave a comment, and let us know so we can add them to the list.