The polarizing topic of ghost producers is more relevant than ever, with many EDM fans accusing DJ Mag of rewarding top spots to artists who allegedly use ghost producers for many of their hit tracks. (Though to be fair, it’s not called DJ Mag’s Top 100 Producers poll.) An interview with a notable ghost producer would help settle the score on the matter, and luckily UKF has come through with a very insightful interview with a top ghost producer.
The unnamed ghost producer UKF interviewed apparently produced tracks for five of the top 10 DJs in the DJ Mag 2015 poll (any guesses who may have used him?), but interestingly believes that ghost production isn’t all that controversial. He compares ghost production in EDM to the leagues of collaborators associated with pop stars, citing EDM’s commercial growth as the reason people now take up arms against ghost production. He argues it has been prevalent in the genre since the genre’s underground days.
In terms of his style, the producer negotiates with offers (with the help from a trusty lawyer) on how to receive compensation for the track. If he believes the track will sell incredibly well, he’ll take a cheaper up-front amount and sign up for royalties and the like. If the interested party wants to play festivals but needs tracks and benchmarks like prime Beatport spots on their resumes (yes, he mentions such an occurrence happens), he’ll create a few tracks for “a couple of quid.” He cites some numbers along the way, mentioning £10,000 as an up-front amount with no royalties and £50 for the upfront amount and £50,000 in royalties.
This particular ghost producer mentioned that it rarely takes him too long to create a track, as most of his clients send him basic ideas (like basslines or melodies) as a starting point. From there, he finishes up the track in a couple of hours, and returns to it later to “[approach] it afresh” and give it proper mixing.
While his viewpoints toward ghost production may alienate some diehard dance fans, his closing answer to the interview provides a refreshing viewpoint from someone so entrenched in the industry:
The one thing that bugs me when people discuss ghost producers is the term ‘sell out’. I think ‘hold on, I’m not after fame and fortune, I never have been’ I’m just a big dance music fan and I love tech and synths and writing. My love is in the studio and that’s what I get paid to do. The definition of a sell out to me is someone doing something they don’t love for money. My work – as a mix engineer, sound designer and ghost producer – has paid for a very nice studio, a lot of beautiful synthesisers and a nice life. I don’t think that’s selling out at all.
Go to UKF for the full eye-opening interview.