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Situating creative production: recording studios and the making of a pop song

Jonathan Michael Gander (Norwich Business School, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK)

Management Decision

ISSN: 0025-1747

Article publication date: 18 May 2015




This paper explores the spatial and material context of a creative production project. Taking the music recording project as an empirical setting, it explores the creation of a pop song and reveals the highly situated character of its management and organization. Making a creative product such as a pop song is a complex endeavor, requiring a large number of decisions involving highly subjective and often contested and contestable judgments. The purpose of this paper is to understand how this is achieved.


The study is based on observation of musicians and a music producer during the creation of a pop song in a mid-sized recording studio. Interviews were also conducted with the participant musicians and 24 music producers based in the UK. The resulting qualitative data were analyzed using a socio-material perspective to trace the spatial relationships and explore the material organization of the project.


Producing musical product is achieved through establishing spatial and material relations in order to regulate tasks and roles and manage the challenge of making decisions within temporarily assembled teams engaged in tasks characterized by high levels of uncertainty.


This paper tackles a neglected aspect of creative management, the physical context in which it is carried out. Other sites within the creative industries such as design and film studios, theatre and other performance spaces can usefully be analyzed using the approach and perspective of this research.



Gander, J.M. (2015), "Situating creative production: recording studios and the making of a pop song", Management Decision, Vol. 53 No. 4, pp. 843-856.



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