Collaboration in the music industry

I am currently writing a book at the moment about 1990s UK Number One records (as you do), and in the course of doing some research a pattern struck me that might explain a bit about globalisation, the world wide web, and smarter marketing.

Before you think I am mad, let me explain.

What I noticed is that since the turn of the millennium, there have been a rising number of Number One records that are the result of collaborations between different acts. So, this does not include something like “Bill Haley and the Comets” in the 1950s, as they were known as the one act. It is more like “Beyonce and Shakira” in more recent times, performers who would typically never perform together but came together for that one occasion.

I gathered the numbers together and this is what I came up with:

2020s data up to October 14th 2021

Now isn’t that interesting? It immediately got me thinking to why this might be the case. I mean, this is not something that just ‘happened’. There has to be a reason for it.

I then got thinking about the themes I mentioned above – globalisation, smarter marketing, and the world wide web. The internet has helped make the world smaller over the last 20 years, and it has definitely facilitated globalisation. Is it a coincidence that the music industry has also seen the value in bringing people together in the same way, perhaps as a way of facilitating market penetration? I would have to lean towards a firm “no”.

I accept there is always going to be the novelty value of seeing two different acts performing together, but over above that it seems fair to view collaborations as a mirror of the world we’re currently living in. They often represent a coming together of different races, cultures, and segments of society, and always in a positive light. It feels like there is something quite warm and toasty about that.


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