A long-lost Beatles interview was just discovered from a Scottish tv taping session in April 1964. This was initially touted as the earliest surviving Beatles interview—which of course it is not—but it may be the earliest surviving interview in which John Lennon and Paul McCartney discuss their songwriting partnership.
The brief snippet I heard on the radio yesterday was a fresh reminder of a critical lesson in team collaboration we can learn from Lennon and McCartney: it works to share the credit.
John and Paul agreed from the beginning that no matter how much or how little each contributed to a finished song, it was credited equally. (Even if a song was written only by Lennon or only by McCartney it was credited as a 'Lennon-McCartney' composition and the royalties from the song were shared fifty-fifty.)
This was a smart way to manage competition cooperatively. On the one hand, Lennon and McCartney could still take individual pride of ownership in—and receive public recognition from—what each contributed.
After all, most discerning listeners could figure out who wrote which songs (and even which sections of songs) by noting who was singing the lead vocal. For instance, in 'A Day in the Life' John wrote and sang the body of the song, while Paul wrote and sang the bridge ('Woke up, fell out of bed, dragged a comb across my head…').
On the other hand, Lennon and McCartney shared equally in all the financial rewards from each song. Given their competitive natures—which were on ugly display in the later Beatle years, contributing to their eventual breakup—this partnership model may have kept them together years longer than what would have occurred otherwise.
With a few exceptions, most of the Beatles' songwriting competitors were not able to manage their creative differences long enough to sustain long-term business success. (Interestingly, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards adopted the same partnership model as Lennon-McCartney and are still writing, recording, and performing with the Rolling Stones.)
Similar songwriting partnerships might have extended the life of other creatively-gifted bands of that era, such as The Byrds (featuring singer/composers Roger McGuinn, Gene Clark, and David Crosby) or Buffalo Springfield (Neil Young and Stephen Stills), given that both bands were unnecessarily riven by songwriter competition and jealousy.
As the late US President Harry Truman once said: 'It's amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.'