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Studio Design and the Management of Creative Production

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Jonathan M. GANDER and Alison RIEPLE


This paper examines the design of recording studios in the management of

relations within popular music recording projects. The creation of a pop song is

a complex endeavor, requiring a large number of decisions involving highly

subjective and often contested and contestable judgments. Organized in a flat

structure and without established lines of authority this temporary assembly of

people are faced with the challenge of making a product characterized by

uncertainty over how to make it and what it will sound like once it is completed.

The purpose of this paper is to understand how this is achieved. The study is

based on observation of the practices, and relationships operating in a

recording studio and supplemented by interviews with the participants. Using a

socio-material approach, the spatial organization and use of technological

objects are included to produce a contextual analysis of how actions are

organized and decisions taken. What emerges is an understanding of how the

designed arrangement of the participants and the application of sound

production and editing technology are used to manage the development of the

song and confer decision-making authority upon the music producer. When the

spatial organization of the participants is altered by the introduction of new

technology and new spaces, the decision-making power of the producer is

challenged and artist power is increased. The management of creative projects

is achieved through establishing spatial and material relations in order to

overcome the challenge of making decisions between temporarily assembled

teams engaged in tasks characterized by high levels of uncertainty.


PUBLISHED: Proceedings from the The 19th DMI: Academic Design Management Conference, 2014


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