An Open Letter to Ghost Producers

writing-letter

Have you ever talked to a ghost producer? I have. I talked to someone that produced a Beatport-charting single that ultimately sent the wrong person’s career into the next stratosphere. People are applauding a DJ that landed on every major festival in the world off of the success of a single that he didn’t create. Every once in a while, I text the original producer with pictures of the fraud playing to tens of thousands of kids just to fuck with him. Hoping to crack him. Hoping he’ll break.

I can’t speak on either name, because this ghost producer isn’t interested in speaking. Sure, I could have secretly recorded him admitting that he ghost produced a hit single. I could provide the contracts with the splits for the record. I could have secretly videotaped the studio session that he opened up for me while we were on Skype. I have enough information to throw the accused party under the bus. That’s reporting, right? But I can’t actually do any of this. I wouldn’t break someone’s trust in order to generate numbers. The bigger issue is that this unknown producer just wants to get known for his music. The industry essentially forcing him to shop his tunes out to false idols because they aren’t covering his work. He has to pay his bills somehow, right?

I pushed another artist that also happened to have a record on regular radio rotation. The video has almost 1.5 million views, and the track isn’t credited to him. If the track and the producer are exposed, content curators will jump on the drama instead of thinking about the fact that this is an incredible producer capable of making hit records or admitting that they let a producer with superstar potential slip through their fingers. This producer sent his tunes to DOZENS of platforms before I picked him up and boosted his career. This is an indicator that sites aren’t being run by people who truly know music. Sure, I can expose the tune that he should be famous for, but all blogs will attach themselves to is the drama instead of getting behind him and fixing the issue that they are inadvertently causing.

I discussed how obvious ghost production was in the career of a reputable DJ/producer with a writer here at DAD, and it took him 20 minutes to wrap his head around it. Oh THAT’S why every song has someone else on the credits. Oh THAT’S why he can perform at shows year-round and somehow still produce prolific records. Oh THAT’S how he can dip between 10 genres and do well with all of them. Oh THAT’S why this record sounds like the whole career of someone that essentially disappeared from the industry. And while this swarm of DJs are using ghost producers and the ignorance of the general audience to boost their own careers, there are exceptions to the rule.

Skrillex’s output has noticeably slowed down since his career spiraled out of control. This is because it’s absolutely impossible for someone to create epic records while on a grueling tour schedule. But instead of latching onto ghost producers and claiming records as his own, he is using his OWSLA label to push artists he believes in. This should be the model within the industry, but it isn’t. And as it stands, those that represent business before art are ruining this industry.

Anyone actually publicly speaking out on their job as a ghost producer would send waves throughout the industry. Outing a known producer for this controversial practice would cause a shit storm for PR firms, booking agencies, labels, advertising companies, and everyone else under the sun. The only way to stop this practice from happening is for ghost writers to speak up on their position in the industry, and out the producers that haven’t been creating their own records. This has yet to happen. People are scared to upset the balance.

Irene Test wrote a great article a while ago speaking on the issue. She included a thread from the Trance Addict forum, where producers are listed as frauds. Because the ghost producers for these reputable names aren’t speaking out, these accusations are no more than that. Keep in mind that this is one forum representing one genre. If there’s validity to even ONE of these names, imagine the other lanes within EDM that ghost production may affect. The fact that Irene’s article has been “liked” 13,000 times on Facebook should be an indicator that people care.

Not all ghost production is someone in power taking advantage of their position though. There are instances where both parties are pleased. I’m aware of one notable ghost producer that gets paid incredibly well for his work. I’ve reached out, and he told me that he has no interest in speaking publicly about it. There is an even split on publishing dollars, and that’s all he seems to really care about. He’s produced several crossover records that landed on Billboard charts, and doesn’t have to grind as a DJ or swim through the business end of things. He’s happy doing what he loves and staying out of the limelight.

If this were the case every time, nobody would care. But there are kids being taken advantage of, lied to, and cheated. I’ve heard stories of unfair splits. Failure to pay sums agreed upon. And unapproved changing of credits after a collaboration was released. Most of us snarky 30-something writers and curators latched onto electronic music before the bubble. It was underground; the antithesis to everything in the rap and pop world that we despised. As more and more money funnels into this industry, the business moves remind me of the scene that had no qualms with leaving 10 years ago.

If you ghost produce, stand up. It doesn’t have to be for our website, but it will be for our culture and our future. There are so many websites that truly care about music, and would love to know that we are crediting the people that inspire us to write. We need you to level the playing field, to stand up for yourself, and to upset a system that is benefiting everyone at the top with the work of those on the bottom. Sitting back and saying nothing only proves that you care more about the business than the art.

  • Greg Myopic Gonzales

    Thanks for writing this!

  • Galvanix

    Ghost producers go hand in hand with the commercialized parts of dance music, in my opinion. Huge names are having tracks ghost produced for them who are playing certain styles of music and getting booked at festivals that are run by companies that’re being monopolized anyways.

    I think it’s really clear which artists are genuine and that’s the people who should be given support. These big names putting out generic music are the ones with ghost writers (you mentioned it’s common with big touring acts) and they’re all part of a bigger picture. Doesn’t the money for those releases go towards distributors/labels and the like ANYWAYS?

    Anyone paying for ghost production obviously doesn’t care about the art/love of music and at that point it’s part of a business plan. Get a ghost producer to make your songs, get booked at big shows and get a lot of money and fame.

    The ghost producers don’t need exposure, doing the ghost production is their form of ‘day job’ and if they wanted to be famous, they would create a brand and image and go for it, or pay someone to help them do so. I don’t see the point in trying to get them to speak out or be featured if they’re making generic hits anyways.

    Food for thought, if I were a ‘ghost producer’, I would have my own music project going on anyways with the things written from the heart. If they don’t do that, it’s their fault, and they could easily do so without exposing anything.

  • http://electronicdancemusic.com/ edm

    Thank you Dj Nappy/Do Androids Dance for posting

  • Z

    If any of these people were outted, it wouldn’t do shit. Everyone would just learn to live with it. Joacham Garrud.

    • Michael DjNappy Abernathy

      “He is the producer of stars such as Geyster, Paul Johnson, Deep Dish, David Bowie, OMD, Kylie Minogue, Mylène Farmer, Cassius, Belamour, Kid Vicious, Saffron Hill and Culture Club.” Innnteresting. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joachim_Garraud

  • ski

    as a ghost producer, please answer this question……WHAT’S IN IT FOR US? why should we stand up and declare ourselves, and out the frauds, when we will sabotage our source of income and be forced into exile like the EDM version of Edward Snowden??

    • Ben Alonzo

      lmao!!!!

  • subverse

    You are asking for ghost producers to commit career suicide. The Job of the press is to report the truth, and this article does everything accept that. Ghost production is nothing new; we already knew it was happening.

    Blogs are so concerned about losing access to artists if they point out a terrible track or unacceptable behavior. But at some point, blogs need to act as the watchdogs or terrible people will continue to control the direction of the conversation. So other than tell us how close you are to insider info, what exactly does this article do? What is its purpose?

  • Zac

    nappy – Ive seen several features around the web on ghost production and mad respect for what you’re doing by inviting these people to speak up, thats where most other blogs draw the line, as mentioned, afraid to upset the balance. Great article.

    But i have a request from the other side of this coin. Id love to see an article about how people go about becoming ghost producers in the first place.

    I love producing. I hate any and all limelights. Id like nothing more than to offload my tracks to someone who likes the attention.

    Where the hell are people finding the ‘please produce my tunes for me’ classified ads lol… do such things exist? or is it a case of knowing a performer with a marketable image personally, and approaching them as a friend and saying ‘here- lemme write you some stuff?’

    How this whole process goes is a dark, secretive thing.

    • thedjtime

      I would like a ghost – activeintelligentmedia@gmail.com. 50 percent split. Not looking to take advantage like some people. I just spend all my time spinning records and not making.

  • Ben Alonzo

    What ghost producers should do is stop ghost producing, and let the fucking monkey at the top sort it out…

  • Chrxstxxn

    If you ask yourself, “Why is One Direction so popular?” you’ll come down to the fact that it all comes down to image. As such, Ghost Producers DO NOT HAVE THE IMAGE THAT IS GOING TO MAKE SALES. There is a reason why they exist. There is a reason why they aren’t up there on stage. There is a reason that they are sitting behind a computer in the shadow of the scene.

    Also, perhaps, this is where they want to be. Flylo once said that he’d rather stay at home and produce instead of playing out. Surely he isn’t the only one like this. If someone prefers to produce, then that is exactly what they going to do; especially if they’re good at it.

  • Guest1

    How bout this? Quit ya bitchin and enjoy the music for fuck sake. And Skrillex’s career didn’t spiral out of control… I’d say that Dog Blood is probably one of the most successful electronic duos in a while. And I have also heard that he is in process of making an album for next year…

  • Guest1

    Lol about the Skrillex part, I apologize because I read it wrong… So i’m sorry about that but still I mean as long as the music is making us happy, that is all that matters… and if Ghost Producers wanted to take Full credit and put it out under their name I’m pretty sure they would..

  • CARNAGE

    nice article.

  • http://differentkitchen.blogspot.com/ StellasKid

    Marinate on this for a minute: on the hip-hop side of things, Kanye West was a ghost producer (under Derek D-dot Angelettie) for a loong time before he eventually got his own shine….

  • Josh

    There’s
    no grand conspiracy, the simple fact is that some people are great at
    performing and some are amazing at producing. it’s rare that someone is
    gifted at both. All throughout history, musicians have covered other
    peoples songs and used ghost-producers. The fact is, it’s all just
    entertainment. Since when is it a conspiracy for an entertainer to use
    deception as part of their show? Are all magician’s supposed to speak
    out because the rabbit they pull out of their hat wasn’t really in the
    hat? It’s all for fun, escapism and entertainment and people like this
    writer, spreading hate is what’s wrong with the dance scene.

    • http://www.rockthedub.com/ khal

      I get where you’re coming from, at least in terms of “some people are great at performing and some are amazing at producing. it’s rare that someone is gifted at both.” my problem is there are times where the ghost-production isn’t because one guy stinks at a live performance, but that it’s because this person’s “name” is bigger. is there a reason why some DJs are seen as bigger draws? definitely. but there are many times where we aren’t even given a chance to see what these “lesser names” can do. and that doesn’t mean that all of the “big tunes” should go to the “names,” because that totally cuts out the people who are making quality bits but aren’t being recognized.

  • duchess

    my boyfriend is one of the most prolific makers of electronic i have ever heard and yes alot of big recognizeable names have used him to produce beats, remix, and dj sets for radio cast… yes there are nda’s signed but truthfully no he was not compensated fairly or given the actual credit its the poseur getting the credit…. I think this is an amazing article because you provided how to do it right with Skrillex and his label. I dig skrillex so that made me happy because not all know how to give back. With a music career that has exploded absolutely embrace the skrillex model that way your momentum helps others instead of the top twenty being dominated by the same awful names again and again. The last agreement my boyfriend had was that he would do for this one DJ( i call db for douchebag instead of his real B$…name ) what he needed as a ghost producer as long as he could open for him on the tour … yeah a world tour and you guessed it not one freaking set on the whole thing. he let him set up his shit though. I hope someday he can carry my dudes record bag. My whole life listening to edm since 1996 on the dance floor has made me question who is making me dance? is it the dj? or the dude who made the beats on the record ? the producer? my search led me to an article about bt and his abelton recording sounds into samples spinning them out and there i had my answer… or so i thought.. but i actually got my answer when i met my boyfriend carlos dirticow vasquez from digital assasins on the dance floor of stanton warriors…. and fuck me if i didn’t find out a few days later who it was that made me dance my ass off for 20 years… it was him all along…. and his music is everywhere on records out djs music and television and no one knows because he was so damn nice thinking his “friends ” would give back and well we know how that goes. heres to 2014 being a better year cause we was broke in 2013… don’t steal music and pay for what you download cause when you don’t your forcing that artist to live on ramen nooodles… but money aint everything and were happy so c’est la vie….

  • John

    Blah blah blah, be a real fucking journalist and stop being a baby.

    • John

      By that I mean, expose these people. You lack and credibility by keeping these names a secret.

  • Future G.P

    Im going to be the most famous ghost producer ever