Is going solo better than collaborating?

18 Sep

I’m working on a seminar that I’ll be sharing with clients and staff from Kellett Communications in Yellowknife next week (along with Chris Burdge or b_west on Twitter) and I’ve been doing a lot of reading on where the great creative minds find their inspiration.

While many attribute the golden moments to individual perseverance through hard work, digging deep, doing the research, being aware of one’s feelings etc., a welcome common thread is the power of collaboration.

Contemporary culture is rife with examples of the whole being greater than the sum of the parts.

Think of popular music and the rise of the band, or writing duo. Would Mick Jagger or Keith Richards have amounted to anything on their own without their antagonistic muse to push and cajole them to greatness?

When news broke of Jagger’s intention to break from the band and record his third solo album, a frustrated and infuriated Richards, who believed in the sanctity of their partnership, hastily sent his own solo effort into the market. The first single “You Don’t Move Me” contained this priceless dig at Jagger’s commercial and critical failure as a solo artist.

“Now you want to throw the dice, you already crapped out twice.”

Evidently competition is a powerful thruster in the engine of creativity.

Advertising has given the world the art director/copywriter tandem – the so-called right brain/left brain perpetual children of our business.

But even that once inviolate partnership is giving way to larger group hugs. No sane agency person believes anymore that creativity only lives where the black turtlenecks hang out. So there has been a healthy mucking up of skill sets – from media to brand specialists to strategic planners, even clients – in larger and more frequent creative free-for-alls throughout the lifecycle of a job.

It’s healthy for the players and good for the ideas.

I think Keef would agree.

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5 Responses to “Is going solo better than collaborating?”

  1. Reg September 19, 2010 at 6:47 pm #

    And I agree too! Sometimes a more ‘painful’ and/or time-intensive approach, but often yielding better overall output. Nothing wrong, per se, with individual originality, but collaboration gets my vote for overall longevity, ‘cross-pollenation’ of ideas and skills (and hence growth for more individuals), and moments of ‘collective genius’.

  2. dougbrowncreative September 20, 2010 at 7:13 pm #

    I don’t think we would have come very far as a species if we didn’t collaborate eh?

  3. Chris Burdge September 20, 2010 at 9:45 pm #

    OMG that picture of Keith is classic. Dude has seen better days. My favourite collaborators of all time; Plant-Paige followed closely by Keith & Mick. Sounds like we can share an iPod on the flight.

    I like this quote from Keith about making music…

    “Good music comes out of people playing together, knowing what they want to do and going for it. You have to sweat over it and bug it to death. You can’t do it by pushing buttons and watching a TV screen.”

    I used to love seeing this happen at the agency. It’s been a while…

  4. dougbrowncreative September 21, 2010 at 4:20 am #

    A guy who reportedly snorted his own father’s ashes is always going to be good for a quote. Here’s another favourite:

    “”I don’t have that God aspect about (creating songs). I prefer to think of myself as an antenna. There’s only one song, and Adam and Eve wrote it; the rest is a variation on a theme.”

  5. Rudy Arifin September 23, 2010 at 3:21 pm #

    Mick Jagger Biography – A Legend in Classic Rock

    01.16.10

    Mick Jagger is one of the most well-known and highly respected musicians in the world. He is a living legend whose career has spanned 5 decades and he, with the help of his Rolling Stones band members, have sold millions of albums worldwide.

    So when did it all start? When did Mick Jagger decide he would be part of one of the most popular bands in the history of the world?

    He was born in Dartford, Kent (England) in on July 26th, 1943. Amazingly, he met Keith Richards at the tender age of 4, lost touch, then became reacquainted on a train in 1960. Mick left the London School of Economics to become a rock musician. The Rolling Stones formed between 1960 and 1962. Mick Jagger played the harmonica and was on lead vocals, Keith Richards and Brian Jones on guitar, Charlie Watts played the drums, Bill Wyman on bass. Their style was a mix of blues and rock, combining the styles of Muddy Waters and Chuck Berry.

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