165% increase in average number of songwriters on hits since 1970s, study shows

While 1.7 songwriters on average contributed to hits in the 70s, that number’s since risen to 4.5 today

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Man writes a song with guitar

Getty / Andrii Sylenko

How many songwriters does it take to pen a hit song? Too many to fit in a recording studio, it seems. A recent study by iMusician has highlighted a whopping 165 per cent increase in the average number of songwriters it takes to write a hit today compared to in the 1970s.

In the 70s, the average number of songwriters contributing to one hit track was 1.7. That’s since risen to 4.5 writers per track.

Boney M’s 1978 hit Rivers of Babylon had four contributing songwriters. The 80s saw Culture Club’s Karma Charmeleon top the rankings with five, while Cher’s iconic Believe in the 90s had seven writers.

In the 2000s, Blu Cantrell and Sean Paul’s Breathe had eight writers, and Drake‘s In My Feelings in the 2010s required 14. Currently, Beyoncé’s Heated tops the 2020s with a mind-boggling 18 songwriters.

iMusician songwriters report

The fascinating report goes on to point out that in 1975, Freddy Mercury kept Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody – penned by himself alone – at the number one spot in the charts for nine weeks. Compare that to now, and just 10 per cent of the current top 100 singles have a single songwriter.

“Songwriters play a crucial role in the creation of chart-topping hits and have a significant impact on the music industry.” Says Simon Gardner of iMusician. “Their contributions go beyond simply writing lyrics and melodies; they help shape the overall sound and commercial viability of a song.”

“Many chart hits are the result of collaborative efforts between songwriters, artists, and producers. Collaborative songwriting allows for the pooling of creative ideas, diverse perspectives, and the fusion of different musical styles, resulting in chart-worthy tracks.”

Read the full report, How Many Songwriters Does It Take To Make A Hit, over at iMusician.


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