Coldplay, Rihanna, and This Thing Called Collaboration

Today it was confirmed that Rihanna was going to be featured on one of the songs off Coldplay's upcoming album Mylo Xyloto. I was excited to hear this, then somewhat surprised to see some of the backlash from diehard fans.

This made me think of a quote from Jay Z on collaborating with others:

"The most important thing about collaborations is to maintain a sense of your self--you bring the best of what you do to the table and they bring the best of what they do to the table."

Now of course, I'm not a musician. But I feel I can speak as an artist on this thing called collaborating. I spent the last year collaborating with a couple of musicians on novels based on their songs and it ended up being one of the best things of my writing career.

Ten years ago, however, I would have said I'd never be "co-writer" with anybody. In fact, I clearly remember saying those words. But they were really spoken out of ignorance and pride.

This is what I believe about artists: they should grow and change. This happens naturally as they get older and as the world around them changes. Each decade defines you in a different way, from the teen years to the 20's and so on. Marriage, children, family life, triumphs and tragedies . . . all of these impact your evolution as an artist. Or they should.

One way artists can grow is to collaborate with fellow creatives.

Collaborating gives you another perspective. For those in a rock band like Coldplay, they already have four very distinct personalities and voices (not to mention producers and managers who work closely with them). But for authors like myself, I just have me and the voices in my head. Oh, we have a grand old time, but we tend to think the same way. Working with another artist helps give you other options and opinions, good and bad.

Collaborating also helps give you the freedom to not do things you might normally do, or to do the things you might normally not do.

Collaborating is also fun. Artists can be tempermental and testy, but they can also be giving and goofy and great fun (and remember--when I use the term "artist" I mean any creative person).

Those who know me know I'm a big fan of Coldplay. So they'll roll their eyes and simply think I've sipped the Chris Martin Koolaid. But want to know one reason I absolutely love this collaboration?

It's not because I like Rihanna. She's an amazing talent and I've enjoyed her music.

No, its because I've always wanted to create a character in a story who is inspired by Rihanna.

Well, it looks like Chris Martin was thinking the same way. He said this in regards to Rihanna working with them on Mylo Xyloto:

"The album is designed as a whole piece. It has boy and girl lead characters and top of our list for the girl part was Rihanna."

So speaking specifically on the Coldplay-Rihanna collaboration, I think it will be brilliant and I can't wait.

I love that Coldplay is evolving and growing. Some people will surely look at this collaboration as a way to sell records and make money (and you know folks, there's nothing wrong with that). But I think it's two creative forces partnering together to do something cool and different.

As far as collaborating in general, I can share that I've got many, many ideas for future collaborations. Jimmy Wayne and I have already come up with half a dozen story ideas that may see the light of day. I have ideas to work with other singers, bands, writers, critics, coaches, directors (and no, I'm not just saying that).

It will be fun to see which door opens next, and what interesting creation it will lead to.

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