Recording studios and the Kelley brothers

Recording studios and the professionals using them can and should always be learning. In 2013
design professionals Tom and David Kelley released a book entitled ‘Creative Confidence:
unleashing the creative potential in us all,’ in which they discussed design thinking, and how it can
benefit other industries when applied effectively. The third chapter particularly addresses this issue. So how can design thinking be applied to the work happening inside recording studios? What can music professionals learn from design?

There is no doubt that the cross-pollination of ideas between professional fields can reap benefits. In their book, the Kelley brothers reference a Ferrari pit crew who were brought into Great Ormond Street Hospital in London to run a short training program for medical staff, who had thus far been struggling to work efficiently and communicate effectively. As a result, technical errors lowered by 42 percent, and information errors by 49. So why shouldn’t design thinking have the same relationship with recording studios? The design thinking that is identified in chapter three of ‘Creative Confidence’ revolves around two core ideas, amongst others; empathy with the end user and the reframing of perspective.

Empathy is defined by the Kelleys as “the ability to see an experience through another person’s eyes, to recognise why people do what they do.” For example, a producer might go to one of their favourite recording studios, turn on the monitors, and start mixing a pop track for radio. But what if they instead went to the end user, and asked fans how they listen to an artist’s music; on headphones during their morning run, on the car stereo on the way to work, on their terrible laptop speakers at home. Rather than creating a mix that suits the radio, the producer could create a mix that connects with the audience on a personal level. Music professionals sometimes need to be looking past charts, streams and sales, and instead looking to the client. You can see some of the clients we have worked with in our recording studios here, and read what they had to say.