Popular music is more collaborative than ever

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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 accumulated 24 Billboard 100 hit songs, all collaborations with other artists.

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The American music industry is increasingly following Mr. Khaled’s formula. According to data from the Billboard Hot 100, weekly ranking of the most popular singles in the country, collaborations now represent more than a third of hits. Of the top ten songs in 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 company. Streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music, which tend to blur the lines between genres, can also encourage popular artists to jump on other people’s tracks.

Such partnerships run the risk of appearing contrived and inauthentic. But those that are executed well can be critically acclaimed as well as stream millions. When Chancellor 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 top music magazine, hailed it as “a celebration of friendship and a tribute to the alchemical power of collaboration”.


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