What Is a Music Collective?
Simply put, a music collective is a group of musical artists who collaborate to create, promote, and support each other’s work. This support often includes sharing time and expertise, and resources, as well as making music together. This approach differs from the more traditional record label model, which tends to focus on simply releasing music.
Music collectives can be a very attractive option for artists trying to get established; however, even long-time industry insiders can see the appeal of a music collective. Irish recording artist and songwriter Paul Hourican, founder of the new music collective Blackbird Sounds, is an example of the latter.
Paul Hourican Ireland’s Musical Journey
Like many other artists with an interest in music collectives, Paul Hourican is an industry veteran. In the 2000s, he created his own music label, Hurricane Records. He then partnered with Warner Music Ireland to release his original songs.
Yet Hourican wanted to take things a step further. An introverted and accomplished songwriter whose works span many genres, Hourican wanted to ease out of the performing spotlight in order to devote himself to the creative process. Since 2012, he has amassed an impressive collection of new songs in a variety of genres.
In July 2021, Paul Hourican introduced his new music collective, Blackbird Songs. Named from one of Hourican’s songs, this collective will showcase a changing lineup of guest musicians and vocalists performing Hourican’s original songs. Blackbird Sounds’ first EP is expected later in 2021
A Music Collective: The Advantages
A music collective holds a number of advantages over a major record label or a DIY approach to making music. In many ways, it becomes a flexible, happy medium between the two. Each musical collective differs from others depending on the goals and expertise of its members.
The Ability To Multitask
When an artist or group is signed onto a record label, certain recording and touring obligations may preclude them from exploring other creative projects and partnerships. In Hourican’s case, he has an interest in writing for Broadway and in addition to releasing music with Blackbird Sounds. One strength of a music collective is that it leaves artists free to pursue outside projects without breaching a contract or letting anyone down.
The Creative Process
A great performer is not necessarily a comfortable performer. A music collective frees Hourican from performance and recording obligations. This, in turn, gives him the freedom to do what he loves best: create new music and lyrics. A private person, the collective allows him to stay out of the spotlight. Music collectives allow artists to play to their strengths, rather than struggle to do it all.
The flexible structure of a music collective gives more artists the opportunity to contribute and gain valuable experience. Artists who may not have otherwise had a chance to work together form mutually beneficial partnerships. Hourican hopes that Blackbird Sounds will enable him to work with artists he personally admires. He wants fellow artists to listen to his music and become inspired to record and perform his songs.
Many music groups struggle to form and maintain a musical identity over the years. This makes perfect sense, as times and individuals experience change, but many group’s lineups remain static. By keeping the roster of performers flexible, a music collective can embrace an ever-changing sound, embrace multiple genres of music, and reach a more diverse audience of listeners.
Sharing Is Key In A Collective
Bob Dylan once wrote, “Always do for others and let others do for you.” These words, quoted by Hourican, seem to perfectly encapsulate the aims of Blackbird Sounds in particular and music collectives in general.
In a collective, everyone has something to contribute and something to gain. In a music collective, members might share fans, money, recording space, personal networks, producing and performing expertise in order to get the most out of the collaboration. This helps individuals save time and money and to focus on what matters most to them.
No ‘I’ In ‘Team’
It’s important to keep in mind that music collectives require a considerable team effort to be successful and productive. Each collective will do things a bit differently, depending on the member involved. For an artist willing to share ideas and responsibilities, to both listen and share, there is a lot to love about the music collective structure.
Paul Hourican Collective Conclusion
Music collectives are a possible solution for artists looking to learn and collaborate without being tied to a recording label or contract. They are also attractive to artists who have been struggling to take on everything themselves and need support. Any musical artist looking to make their mark should research existing music collectives and reach out to find out more.