Being a master of everything is highly unlikely and lays the base for working together with others. Producers aren’t necessarily always willing to become DJs, but maybe DJs dream of being producers as well. There are many possible motivations for it, but in the end, the DJ who’s also releasing popular tunes will get more popularity, bookings, fame, money.
Whether you’re coming from the DJing side or you're completely new to music production, it will be quite difficult and confusing in the beginning. You might experience those early on boosts, like, getting your first drum pattern into the daw and laying a bass on top of it. But soon you'll realize that if you really want to get your ideas precisely crafted into your DAW, you’ll need to take a long way of learning the art of production.
Some people don’t have the time, others don’t have the abilities, so if you have money, you might as well ask somebody to help you. Since what you’re looking for is rather professional help, you’ll have to pay them. This is how ghost producing comes to life.
What is Ghost Production?
Ghost producers offer help in mixing, songwriting, additional production, which is highly common in many genres and areas of the music industry. Sometimes this still can be regarded as working on a team, or being in a band - but everybody will be credited for their work. In its most radical form, ghost production means, someone else is composing, producing, mixing, mastering and maybe also distributing „your“ track and you pay him extra so he accepts not to be credited for it.
For our part, we’ve already done all thinkable aspects of ghost production, from simply helping out a little in the production process to fully writing, producing, mixing and mastering a track for a DJ who doesn’t know much about producing.
Looking for (ghost) producers, sound designers, sound engineers, writers, composers might be a path to chose if you have problems in those areas:
- getting help in expressing your creativity
- getting help with sound design
- getting help in the mixing & mastering stage
- getting an extra hand with final bits
If you’re looking for buying the whole process, thats fine too, but you should take some time to reflect if thats really what you need. Even if everybody else thinks a song is your work, you will always know and feel that it hasn't really been your own work. A thought to keep in mind maybe.
Also its important to understand that areas you find difficult to learn yourself or get good at, are most likely areas that are hard to figure out by their very nature, they are hard to figure out for anybody. Thats where you really have to put in the hours, grind it out - or, if you’re not willing to do it yourself, hire someone to do it for you. You will have to expect to pay him a fair amount of money for the years he put into achieving mastery on the subject.
The following quotes from youredm.com, show that ghost producing still is sort of a controversial subject among the worlds top DJs:
Hardwell: “My view is if you’re not producing your own tracks, then just be honest. The fans don’t deserve to be lied to.”
Armin van Buuren: “I think it’s wrong if someone puts a name on a track they had nothing to do with, that they weren’t even in the studio for. I’ve never used a ghost producer.”
Afrojack: “If you get a ghost producer and you’re open about it, that’s fine. But when you try and hide it and act like you do know what you’re doing, that’s kind of stupid.”
Steve Aoki: “I don’t really have a problem with it so much…”
W&W: “Mixed feelings. Of course it kind of takes away some integrity of an artist, but being a good producer is by far not the only aspect of being a great artist or a great DJ.”
Dash Berlin: “I work together with other producers all the time and I am very open about it. What others do is their decision.”
DVBBS: “You can’t be in the NBA if you don’t know how to play basketball.”
Possible problems with ghost production:
- getting the producer to really understand and deliver what you're looking for
- maintaining your integrity as an artist
- having the people, the surroundings of the ghost producer or the ghost himself "leak" information about you not delivering original work
Why do DJs do it?
Here's a good quote from an article at crossfader:
"Three forces seem to keep ghost production going. One, the state of electronic music makes being a producer a necessity. Touched on at WMC, a DJ needs to put out that hit to get the prime gigs – few can truly subsist as a DJ alone, unless he or she has decades of clout. Even then, if the Oakenfold and Tiesto rumors are to be believed, those skills aren’t enough, so a hit single keeps a career relevant.
But what happens when you’re a great DJ but supposedly a mediocre or technically un-savvy producer? Unless you have the connections (like Benny Benassi’s cousin), you seek out a service like Rebelution, which promises 100-percent discreet, pro-quality tracks. With a single, now you have a chance to compete and do your craft in the venues you want.
So, aside from production being a necessary stepping stone to a DJing career, the demand for big-name DJs puts them on the road for a good deal of the year. Although some claim to produce on the road, as all you supposedly need is a laptop and a good pair of headphones, the time doing and traveling between gigs is months away from the studio – and, essentially, away from time creating quality music and career-maintaining hits."
Why would some pro at production rather be a ghost producer than stand on the stage and take all the fame?
Some people are simply more comfortable sitting in the studio, producing music while having a cup of tea than entertaining crowds of thousands of people. They are still doing what they are passionate about: producing music.
At PML, we are not precisely offering ghost production, but we offer a variety of professional sounding and fully editable templates you can use as starting points, creative inputs or other types of inspiration. Some of them are layed out as a complete track already and you’ll simply have to change the chord progressions and adjust the melodies to your very own taste.
Check out our Ableton templates.
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