When we talk about the creative process, we often focus on the artist; singular. But whether it’s writers in a showroom pitching storylines back and forth, or avant-garde leaning designers working with high-street retailers, the right collaborative partnership can often lead to results far beyond those expected by the sum of its parts. As for music – well, while it takes a village to raise a child, it takes an entire orchestra to bring a symphony to life.
Think of how in nature, the wind, bees and flowers work together to spread pollen – a task that requires diverse abilities working together in a specific sequence to achieve a common goal. In the same way, to develop a hit song you need lyrics, an arrangement, musicians, production, mixing and mastering. Of course there are exceptions – those rare few who can do all of the above and more – but honing one’s craft to that level can take a lifetime. More often, it’s several people in the same room, swapping ideas, challenging one another, and combining their separate skillsets to build towards something electric.
Recent research from New Music Week shows that the average number of people involved in the creation of the 100 biggest tracks from 2019 was 4.77 – down from 5.34 in 2018, suggesting a trend towards streamlining teams for optimum creativity. High-profile artists including Billie Eilish, Tom Walker, and Harry Styles are leading this charge – bolstering both critical and popular appeal with a more organic approach that focuses on a strong-willed solo artist working with a hand-selected, small, but industry-leading team.
With many experts predicting long-lasting reverberations from the changes COVID-19 has made to the ways in which we live, work and create, it’s no stretch to imagine this number will continue to decrease. Even in the case of dance, gospel, and other genres which generally require a larger collective of voices – both literally and figuratively – to achieve a desired effect of togetherness, artists have found new ways to connect digitally. Take for example Lady Gaga's and Ariana Grande's ‘Rain on Me,’ which saw two of the world’s biggest artists combine their gargantuan teams to successfully deliver the hit – or the solo collaboration project from PRS for Music and The Riot Ensemble, which allowed new musical partnerships to flourish in a virtual context.
There’s also a kind of perennial mythology attached to smaller creative teams producing era-defining songs – most notably renowned duos like Lennon and McCartney, Simon and Garfunkel, Benny and Bjorn, or Rodgers and Hammerstein. In pairings like these, artists have always found counterparts whose differing skills complement their own, establishing a dynamic where contrasting-yet-compatible style and vision harmonise. And like any other positive working relationship, there are many proven psychological benefits – mental and emotional support, increased motivation, healthy competition, and increased confidence in taking creative risks – all of which combine to make a much better song, which, of course, is the goal.
In a similar way to how the hits of today are developed, our work at PHMG is the result of true collaboration. Each of our audio branding productions requires the work of four people, working together to deliver an accomplished piece. It’s a process which begins with the Copywriter, who builds the foundation with their pen, crafting ‘lyrics’ that reflect the values and tone of the business at hand, and speaking directly to the audience. Next, the Composer will create an exclusive melody that evokes emotion or nostalgia, capturing the essence of the brand, and adding real heart and a clear identity – before passing it on to a voice artist who will inject personality, humanising the production before its final stage. Finally, a Producer will bring all three elements together in perfect harmony, seamlessly mixing and mastering the track to ensure ultimate clarity and the highest standards of professionalism.
The result might not be a hit song – but it’s an audio branding production that captures every facet of a client’s identity, strengthening recognition, memorability, and professionalism, and ultimately driving customer action – all while proving the unique power of creative collaboration.