Musical collective

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Musical collective is a phrase used to describe a group of musicians in which membership is flexible and creative control is shared. Such entities have transitioned from the traditional hierarchical configuration that features either a frontman (e.g. The Cure's Robert Smith, or Adam Levine of Maroon 5, or Chad Kroeger of Nickelback, or Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails), or a plurality of band members in tension for dominance (e.g. Louise Post & Nina Gordon of Veruca Salt, or The Beatles' John Lennon & Paul McCartney, or The Smiths' Morrissey & Johnny Marr). Collectives are seen as an alternative to more ego-driven, combative paradigms of group music-making.

Musical collectives allow for flexibility in their rosters. As such, most of the members are free to rotate in and out of the line-up. They may exist in almost any genre of music, although they have been especially prominent in indie rock and hip hop.

A musical collective is distinct from a musicians collective, such as the London Musicians Collective which is an organization with more general aims and larger membership.


There are two slightly different types of musical collectives. Although both types revolve around collaboration between member artists, the main difference is in how the music is credited.

In one type, the collective is centred on a record label which releases music by its member bands. Although musicians in the collective collaborate with each other, the resulting albums are always credited to a specific band or artist within the collective, rather than to the collective itself. For example, artists associated with the Elephant 6 record label regularly contributed to each other's albums, and sometimes launched one-off side projects featuring varying combinations of musicians from its member bands – however, Elephant 6 itself was the label, and was never credited as the band name on an associated album.

In the other type, the collective itself functions as a band, releasing both albums by its individual member artists and albums credited directly to the collective as an entity in its own right, such as Broken Social Scene. Like the label type, however, individual artists' albums still commonly feature collaborations with other members of the collective.

Also, almost as an in-between, collectives are appearing that have the look and idea of a record label but are centred on individuals. This has been fueled by the rise of the internet and home recording which has allowed a punk DIY ethic to flourish.

Notable collectives[edit]

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