Musicians and academics are promiscuous collaborators. They flit from partnership to partnership sometimes for one-off gigs, sometimes for ongoing stints. In academia, regardless of the longevity of the group, the individual author is always the atomic unit. Co-authorships are identified simply with the names of the authors. Whereas musicians eventually form bands.

Bands have identities separate from the individuals in the bands. The name of the band stores that identity. It also solves a problem we face in academia of how to order the names of the contributors. You don’t. (There is evidence that the lexical ordering of names is good for Andersons and bad for Zames.) We should form bands too.

The idea of a band is important enough that sometimes even solo musicians incorporate themselves as bands. Roger Myerson is the Nine Inch Nails of game theory.

Bands work in the studio (writing papers) and then tour (giving seminars.) Musicians have two typical ways of organizing these. Jazz and pop bands create and perform as a group. Classical music is usually performed by specialists rather than the composer herself.

Our bands do something in between which is hard to understand when you think of it this way. We compose as a band but then perform as individuals. That’s weird because you would think that either you want to hear the composer do the performing or a performance specialist. If it is always the composer then it must be because the composer has a special insight into the performance. But then why not all of them? We should tour as bands some times. And we should also reward performance specialists who perform others’ work.

I want to name my bands. I want my next co-authored paper to be “by (insert name of band here) ” Sandeep, what do you say? Our torture paper will be “by Cheap Talk.” I look forward to making petulant demands and trashing hotel rooms.

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