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Written by: Matt Lillywhite
Ghost production is something that is often frowned upon within the general EDM community. But with artists in other genres considering it to be a routine part of the music business, we decided to take a look at how being a ghost producer can benefit your career in order to raise funds to achieve your ambitions. At the end of this article, the aim is to remove part of the stigma surrounding ghost production and to teach you methods of making money from it. For those of you who are unaware, ghost production is essentially an agreement in which somebody pays a producer to create a track, and release under their own name. Typically, it’s done in the form of a flat fee.
Despite the constant criticism that this business faces, it allows so-called “bedroom producers” to earn a living from their music career – and subsequently reinvest funds back into their music. For example, a $1500 payment from a ghost production could easily be used to run Facebook ads and grow the fan base of a producer. Likewise, many DJs within the touring scene are often using ghost producers as a means of expanding their music career into other sectors of the music industry. For example, if a producer is regularly playing at high profile clubs in Ibiza, and starts releasing music, they can use their gigs as a way of premiering the new tracks to gauge an audience reaction. Contrary to popular belief, ghost producers don’t just create a track and sell it to another figure within the music industry. In a lot of scenarios, they may simply be helping with the sound design of a timbre or a drum rhythm. The possibilities are almost endless.
Although some people hire ghost producers simply so that they have a creative outlet aside from their DJ career, there is a large benefit for both parties. If a producer is uncomfortable playing music at a show or festivals, ghost production can be considered a great way for their creative ideas to be played at such events, whilst maintaining a reasonable wage for their work. Although the cost of a track can vary, the price of a ghost production can be anywhere within the ballpark of $300-$6k approx. Of course, the more successful a producer is, the more a ghost producer would charge. Now that we’ve covered the basics of what a ghost producer is, it’s time to learn how to get clients (if you wish to become a ghost producer). Although there are many routes which you can take, the best for newbies would undoubtedly be using a ghost production site to upload your work. One of the most reputable is probably edmghostproducer.com.
Once the tracks (and associated files) are uploaded, it is a simple case of waiting for people to discover your work and potentially purchase it. Although the site gets a commission, you’d still be receiving the majority of the payment. In a scenario in which a producer is able to create 3 productions a week, that’s easily several hundred dollars (at a minimum) that can be reinvested back into their career. The truth is that many of the top producers within the EDM industry use ghost producers in some form or another. Whether it’s getting help with a drop, sound design, or a melody, it’s a lot more common than most people tend to think.
As a quick case study, KSHMR is considered to be a well-established ghost producer within the EDM scene. With many people knowing about his productions for Tiësto & DVBBS, he has also gone on to do tracks for many more high profile names. For example, he was a part of a hip-hop production duo called The Cataracs that produced massive radio hits such as “Like a G6” with Far East Movement. In addition, he was also partly responsible for “Stars Dance” by Selena Gomez.
EDM fans often seem to hold a giant negative stigma against producers that use ghost producers within their musical compositions. However, it’s simply a commonplace activity across the entire music industry. For example, pop singers do not often write every single lyric, melody or track. Instead, it’s pretty commonplace for them to record a topline, and release it as their own song. The same goes with rap & hip-hop: they are often using multiple people within the songwriting & creative processes of building a new song.