Popular music is more collaborative than ever


DJ KHALED, an American hip-hop producer, is often criticized for shamelessly packing his songs with famous guest stars like Drake, Rihanna and Justin Bieber. But it’s hard to argue with success. In just over a decade, Mr. Khaled has amassed 24 Billboard Hot 100 hit songs, all collaborations with other artists.

The American music industry is increasingly following Mr. Khaled’s formula. According to data from the Billboard Hot 100, a weekly chart of the country’s most popular singles, collaborations now account for more than a third of hit songs. Of the top ten songs on the current Hot 100 chart, half are attributed to more than one artist.

Musicians team up more often for several reasons. Hip-hop, the most collaborative musical genre, is now also the most popular in the United States, according to Nielsen, a market research firm. Streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music, which tend to blur the lines between genres, can also encourage popular artists to jump on others’ tracks.

Such partnerships risk appearing artificial and inauthentic. But those that are executed well can garner critical acclaim as well as millions of streams. When Chancelor Bennett, known to fans as Chance the Rapper, released the album “Surf” with his touring band in 2015, he bragged that “every record has about 50 people on it.” Pitchfork Media, a scholarly music magazine, hailed it as “a celebration of friendship and a tribute to the alchemical power of collaboration”.


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