As a music producer, one might wonder which has producer more this in modern times, individual songwriters or songwriting teams? The results might surprise you! In span ranging from 1955 to 2010 that 52% of the music that we all enjoy and love was written by individuals and the remaining 48% of music has been written by song writing teams or collaborative efforts. Out of the collaborative teams that are writing songs, 50% where written by duos, 19% where written by trios, and the remainder of the 31% where written by four or more people.
So, this brings that question to mind, do we as songwriters write music better as individuals or in teams?
From my point of view, it appears that individuals that write their own music are more celebrated than teams of song writers. Thing about it…We love to celebrate the Johnny Cash’s, Paul McCartney’s, and Alicia Keys automatically assuming that they solely were responsible for writing the music themselves. This might be the case for albums that are written as solo artists or on sophomore albums, but is not usually the case when it comes to emerging artist.
Let’s take a band like the Beatles for example and examine how their music was written. If you were to take a look that the Beatles albums, you will see that many of the Beatles took turns writing different kinds of music and collaborated on most of their music. The three of the four Beatles John, Paul, and George were the key song writers of the band. Each member had unique styles that brought out the best in each of their styles when fused together.
Paul was more a mainstream individual going for mass appeal with his sound, but complex lyrics. John was the voice of reason in songwriting, but is compositions were very experimental. George was more of the “keep it simple” mantra. Each of the styles fused together created some of the most celebrated rock albums in history. This would make one think that collaboration is the key to great songwriting.
Then we could take an artist like, Alicia Keys on the other hand. In modern times that has been accredited to writing her own music, even in a industry that is known for having all of its music written for you. She has had successful albums that are sure to become timeless as she continues to write more successful hits, and grow a legion of fans. While at times she has collaborated with an artist or two, she is most celebrated as an individual. The same would hold true for the late Johnny Cash, which did some minor collaboration with some producers and artists, but is best known for his lyrical style that helped define country pop, and a generation.
It is truly hard to define which the better source of writing music is. Teams can be very effective in generating popular music, and it is a known fact in business and in art that collaborations can fuse like artist to create some pretty amazing music. It would merely come down to matter of opinion on which is the better method, and there may be no right or wrong answer.
Please note, that the statistical data has been pulled from popular hit music tracked by Billboard Music over the last 55 years.
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I would definitely have argued for individualism before you made the point that most bands are effectively a collaboration. The Beatles being a great example – “Ooh I get by with a little help from my friends”.