Over the past two decades, the popularity of songs featuring multiple artists has increased exponentially. This type of creative collaboration blends the contribution of multiple artists, either instrumentally or vocally, into a single work that reflects a coming together of various existing genres.
While the phenomenon of featuring was not as widespread or appreciated in the past, to this day, musical pieces involving artists from different genres are climbing the charts, gaining the success they deserve.
Mix and Match of Genres for Success
The way people listen to music has changed dramatically over the past two decades with the advent of streaming services and social media. As a result, more and more artists are looking for ways to connect with new audiences and remain relevant. Working with other artists can also help foster creativity and engagement. It allows viewers to see that their favorite artist is not making music on their own.
A simple example of this is Lil Nas X’s introduction of Billy Ray Cyrus to “Old Town Road,” which shows the potential power that collaborations can unleash.
But does the success of the music streaming industry in recent years have anything to do with it? Chartmetric found that the percentage of collaborations for most genres is similar to the music industry as a whole, although there are some interesting patterns in terms of genres.
While in the rest of the world the phenomenon of featuring usually concerns genres like rap and hip hop or pop and rap, in Italy the undisputed protagonists of this musical experiment seem to be indie and hip hop or indie and trap.
Out of Body Experience: A Celebration of Featuring Phenomenon
Last January, the Milanese producer MACE released his first album OBE (Out of Body Experience), an entirely new work consisting exclusively of featuring between well-known artists of the Italian trap-pop-urban-hip-hop-indie scene.
It’s the record of an “old-school” producer who gathers here a whole bunch of guest names between veterans and new players –like Blanco– to indulge in a transversal idea. That’s not just a mixtape, it’s a whole new concept. It’s a musical journey, enterprising and intense, multiform and eclectic, the perfect intersection between reality and hallucination.
Each collaboration has its own story, and, since these artists are all relevant in the Italian music scene, the success of the album was inevitable.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Collaborations?
As an artist, it’s important to remember that practice makes perfect. People often do not realize that there is more than one way to be featured on a song. For example, 21 Savage was on singles that featured ad-libs. This shows a deeper understanding of the complexity of features and how they can be used to lead listeners to the main point. When artists are unable to successfully deliver their best performance during a collaborative studio session, improvising might just be the thing that saves them.
There’s no need to limit yourself when it comes to producing a great rap verse or hook. Instead, get creative and take advantage of many other options out there. As long as you can produce something special, that’s it. Playboi Carti is an example of someone who uses this recipe to become successful: throughout his album, Die Lit, we have seen that featured artists are not just rappers.
You can work with anyone on projects, but if you do not deliver high quality results, you will not be successful. There are several ways you can be featured on a record: in your sessions with a fellow musician, be clear about your expectations and weigh all options.
By focusing on what you want while remaining open to new ideas, you create opportunities for unique songs and a potential Billboard hit if you play your cards right, as Justin Bieber and The Kid LAROI recently did with their collaboration on “Stay.”
In the music industry, collaborations are a necessity. An artist often needs to collaborate with fellow musicians to expand to larger audiences. Features are tools that can help grow your fanbase and build relationships with other artists.
Mixing, experimenting, and creating a feature piece can certainly represent a risk for artists, but, if you don’t try, you’ll never know whether that’ll be the turning point of your career.
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