Transnational freelancing: ephemeral creative projects and mobility in the music recording industry

Allan Watson*, Jonathan V Beaverstock

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)
419 Downloads (Pure)


Drawing on Gernot Grabher’s work on projects and project ecologies, there has developed a significant literature concerned with project-based organisations, recognising the fluid, transient, skills-based and localised nature of such forms. Yet, despite the inherent need within projects to draw on highly skilled labour, such literature has tended to overlook the importance of freelance, mobile labour within project ecologies, instead focusing on localised labour pools. In this paper, through a unique case study of transnational freelancing in the music recording industry, we provide a critique and development of Grabher’s conceptualisation of projects. Specifically, we focus on freelance labour to reveal the ways in which transnational mobility can reproduce social processes that have assumed to be localised, and thus the ways in which project work can stimulate mobility. Emphasising the very high degrees of ephemerality and latency with social networks, we argue that the social context in which projects operates needs to be considered well beyond local geographical contexts, with mobility acting to bridge extended periods of latency and reproduce project networks. Further, we extend the notion of social proximity within projects by considering how new ecologies of physical and virtual mobility are redefining freelance labour in the music recording industry.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1428-1446
Number of pages19
JournalEnvironment and Planning A
Issue number7
Early online date1 Apr 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2016

Structured keywords

  • Cultural Work
  • Perspectives on Work
  • MGMT theme Work Futures
  • MGMT Strategy International Management and Business and Entrepreneurship


  • creative industries
  • freelance
  • Mobility
  • music industry
  • projects


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