The traditional studio was not designed with a focus on fostering creativity, but rather to achieve something that was technically difficult to do at the time; but times have changed.”
Will the recording studio finally disappear? What do I mean by that? We all know that recording spaces are here to stay. We just happen to be using a myriad of spaces to do our recordings these days. What I'm really talking about is the more than 70 year old paradigm of the recording studio that still persists today. The one that young creators still aspire to have the means to build one day. The magazine shots like the ones pictured below. As music and sound pros, we are all somehow still trying to create different versions, both big and small of this outdated concept. So the reason I'm now asking this bigger question is that the circumstances around COVID have forced many, if not most of us out of this framework called the “recording studio”. It has also forced us to embrace remote and global collaboration using current technology to accomplish our creative goals without the idyllic workspaces we once cherished (how soft was that couch, right?). This situation has also brought about a level of acceptance of this new normal from everyone in the production chain, from creator to client. In so many ways, this was a necessary shift. All this accelerated change is forcing us to rethink how we foster creativity when the familiar is forgotten, and I think that is a damn good thing. The traditional studio was not designed with a focus on fostering creativity, but rather to achieve something that was technically difficult to do at the time; but times have changed.
An Outdated Concept That Seriously Needs to Evolve
We still set up our studios around the technology rather than the creativity of our mind, body and work.
The traditional recording studio must go and give way to environments, workflows and mindsets that foster creativity and collaboration. Since the advent of the multitrack recorder and soundproof studios, we’ve really focused our environments of creation around technology and not creativity and it hasn’t much changed over the last 70 years. We still set up our studios around the technology rather than the creativity of our mind, body and work. Sure some might argue that staring at instruments, knobs, keys, buttons, LEDs, screens and glowing rubbery percussion pads can drive inspiration, and there is some evidence of that, but true creativity happens when we are free from the known and familiar. Plopping down in front of the same gear everyday can trigger similar patterns of creative output, I.e the things you've always done. Not the most novel of outcomes. Another force holding this transition back is that the recording studio is also still a major status symbol among creators. Soffit mounted speakers and a big console prove you've made it! (The flashiest studio at Signal still gets booked a lot just for instagram shots). This also drives creators to want to prove their worth by creating environments that reflect the part of an accomplished creator. It makes us feel valuable and worthy. Unfortunately it takes a lot of energy to worry about how your studio looks and flex about how much gear you have and that is energy better spent on fostering your own creativity.
COVID is Forcing a Change that We’ve Needed All Along.
What most of us are discovering is that there are so many positives to be celebrated in our new found practices and processes that this may well have been the better way to go all along.
Right now the biggest push towards a new recording studio paradigm is our circumstances surrounding COVID. The inability of being able to congregate in familiar spaces for a session regardless of the type of work being done, is forcing everyone to rethink their entire workflow and in the process uncover new tools, technologies and techniques to get things done. What most of us are discovering is that there are so many positives to be celebrated in our new found practices and processes that this may well have been the better way to go all along. It also suggests that the recording studio of yesterday may not have a place in the future of the industry beyond that of a status symbol. One thing is for certain, we are finding creativity in this chaos.
We Are Re-Aligning Towards What Matters - Our Creativity
So the traditional recording studio and the “tried and true” studio collaboration may not be the way we move forward out of necessity, but also out of a desire to find more creativity. When the “stuff” we’ve historically relied on disappears through circumstance or the advancement of technology, what we are left with is a sense of creative freedom. Sure the transition can be rough as we adapt and unwind past beliefs and programming but when we finally emerge with more of the focus and energy on ourselves and our inherent ability we start to see our true creativity and unique capabilities shine through.