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The University of Southampton
Geography and Environmental Science

Exploited and exhausted? Precarious employment relations and the intimacy of creative work: the case of the recording studio sector Seminar

28 September 2016
Shackleton Building 44, Lecture Theatre B

For more information regarding this seminar, please email Dr Nathaniel O'Grady at N.O' .

Event details

In this paper, I seek to address the lack of attention paid to the issue of individual subjectivity in the cultural workplace, through an empirically informed account of how the changing economic conditions in the recording studio sector of the music industry are impacting on work as seen from the perspective of those working in the sector. While recording studios have traditionally enjoyed a privileged position with regards to music recording, a combination of reduced recording budgets and digital home-recording technologies is now undermining the centrality of recording studios in networks of recording. An associated shift towards more temporary and flexible forms of project working is impacting negatively on employment relations, working conditions and job security in the sector. Drawing on qualitative interviews with record producers and engineers working in recording studios in London, the paper highlights how the rise of freelance work has resulted in a precarious work environment that has shifted the pressure of obtaining work, and the financial risk of not doing so, on to individual producers and engineers. Both for new and experienced producers and engineers, the sector is revealed as an increasingly difficult one in which to find and maintain gainful employment; for many, it is an increasingly exploitive one. Further, the paper considers how new recording and communication technologies are exacerbating the spatial and temporal overflowing of work practices beyond the bounds of formal recording sessions into other spaces and times, in particular the home environment, as part of an intensification and extensification of work.

Speaker information

Dr Allan Watson, Loughborough University. Department of Geography

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