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27th July, 2022

What is a Ghost Producer?

Whether you’ve been working in the music and DJ industry for a while or not, you may have heard the term “ghost producer”.

There are many misconceptions about what a ghost producer is, what they do and, to be frank, whether they’re good or bad for artists and the industry in general. To help ensure the dust settles on this particular issue, we’ll dive into what a ghost producer is, what they do and whether or not you should consider using one. 

Introduction to Ghosts

Of course, we’re not referring to supernatural ghosts here. We’re talking about creative ghosts. Ghost writing and even ghost painting has been a staple of the creative industries for as long as the arts have been around and the same is true for music production and DJing. 

When it comes to ghost producers, there can be a wide variety of different types of work and tasks that they engage in. For some artists, ghost producers merely provide a helping hand to finalise a track. While for others, they can be an integral and critical part of the music creating process from beginning to end. 

Ghost Producers 101

What is a Ghost Producer?

In summary, a ghost producer is a professional that is hired to assist a musical artist, such as a DJ, in the production of a song or track but is not credited for their work. 

Ghost producers remain anonymous and all creative credit is left for the artists. In fact, by contract most ghost producers are not allowed to even identify themselves. Depending on the DJ or artist in question, some creatives are more secretive about their use of ghost producers than others. 

What do Ghost Producers do?

Ghost producers can be involved in many different ways. Some may help write lyrics, create music or produce the track through mastering, arrangement or audio engineering. In some ways, a ghost producer does many of the jobs a regular producer does but without the credit. 

Again, like regular producers, ghost producers can be an invaluable member of the team whether or not they are involved in all aspects of bringing a track to life. They might act as an overall project manager or simply come in for a very specific job. Depending on the particulars of their relationship with the artist, the ghost producer might work in more of a partnership type role or simply come in to take notes from the artist/client. Every ghost producer contract is different and their tasks and involvement will differ as well. 

Ghost Producers vs Co-Producers

The big question is: what then is the difference between a ghost producer and a co-producer?

Ultimately, it comes down to the details of the contract. Regular producers and co-producers always keep a share of the licensing and royalties from a commercial track or project. They keep their rights to part of the track and are credited for their work.

Ghost producers do not always retain royalties. Some may keep a percentage of publishing or mechanical rights to a track they work on if their contract stipulates so, even without being credited creatively for their work. 

There are ghost producers who work for a fixed fee instead and there are even some who have a clause in their contracts stating that the fee structure can be reviewed if the track is successful. 

Once again, it all comes down to the contact so make sure you have an experienced and professional eye looking over any producer contracts–ghost or otherwise–you’re thinking of signing.  

Should You Use a Ghost Producer as a DJ?

It’s pretty safe to say that just about all DJs, especially the most famous ones, work with at least one producer. There are many reasons to do so. From helping provide professional guidance, channel creativity and even ensure promotion and distribution success, producers can be very useful. 

When you’re starting out as an artist, you might want to consider getting a leg up in establishing your brand and sound by using a ghost producer rather than a co-producer. That way you can achieve many of the same things a regular producer would offer you but without losing the credit for your early work before you’re established and known in the industry. 

When you’re grinding it out working as an emerging DJ, you might also struggle to find the time you need to work on your tracks in the studio. Ghost producers can be extremely helpful in this regard. They can ensure you’re continually developing and releasing new music without taking away from your live performances, sets, gigs and touring schedule. 

Last but not least, your technical skills might need a little bit of assistance. Producing music requires many skills, as well as talent and passion. For example, there’s knowing your way around a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) for one. In the highly competitive music and DJing industry, it’s important that your tracks sound singularly professional. Working with a ghost producer could be an excellent way of having your DJ cake and eating it too!

Why You Shouldn’t Work with a Ghost Producer?

Ghost producers are not for everyone. While much of the bad rep of ghost producers in the industry is the result of either contracts that are not understood equally by both parties or the artist/DJ not having the creative control and input they’d like, there’s nothing wrong with using a ghost producer if you have an amicable working relationship.

At the end of the day, you won’t need to use a ghost producer if you’re happy to have the producer or sound engineers credited on your tracks. Nor would you opt to work with one if you’d rather pay a percentage of royalties from your track as a way of saving yourself the upfront fixed cost of hiring a ghost producer.

Every DJ is different, and at the end of the day, you need to build a team around you that works for you and will help ensure your success as an artist. 

Produce Your Music with DJ City

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a DJ working with a ghost producer, co-producer or running solo, your music making journey starts with DJ City.

As the biggest sound and DJ equipment superstore in Australia, we have everything you need to make your mark in the world. Find out more and explore our range today.

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