What is Ghost Production? – How To Make Money As A Ghost Producer?

In today’s article, we’ll be talking about what ghost production is and how a producer can get started selling their productions. 

There has always been widespread debate about ghost production and the ethics of the use of ghost producers by DJs and mainstream performers. Here, we will attempt to objectively explain the topic of ghost production and answer some of the most frequently asked questions related to it. 

What is Ghost Production?

Ghost production is when a music producer produces a track for another artist to release under their name. It allows ghost producers to stay out of the spotlight and helps artists base their focus on performing and touring.

Ghost production can be done wholly or partly, depending on the client’s needs and specifications. The duties widely range from complete production to working on parts of a track.

How do I start with a ghost production?

Start by analyzing popular music on the top charts to get an idea of the kind of work that’ll get through to artists. Then, create a catalog of commercially viable tracks to proactively approach artists with. You are more likely to get through to an artist with a catalog of multiple tracks than a single because music is subjective.

Giving the artist multiple options to consider reflects your range and enables them to hand-pick from your wide variety of work. In addition, this practice helps the artist connect with your music effortlessly, thus increasing your odds of hearing back from them.

Create music geared towards other artists. Remember that you are making music to sell it to other artists. Therefore, it would be best to pitch tracks that they want to purchase and release under their aliases. In addition, you should stay updated with mainstream music to gain deep knowledge of the sound that potential clients are scouting for.

When an artist approaches you to create a track for or with them, understanding their needs and expectations is key. Spend time talking to them to understand the kind of music they are looking for. Ask for and study multiple references to ideate and conceptualize uniquely.

How do ghost producers work?

Ghost producers adopt different methods and assume varied roles when working with artists, depending on their experience and expertise, respectively.

As ghost producers climb up the experience ladder, they adopt different practices and strategies for prospecting clients.

  • Entry-level ghost producers mostly start by approaching artists individually, applying push strategies to market their work. This direct route to promotion involves introducing artists to their work with a portfolio of multiple tracks, proactively pitching, and networking across a spectrum of potential clients.
  • Intermediate-level ghost producers rely on both push and pull strategies to market their work. Producers that have started carving a niche, thus gaining acknowledgment in the industry, are occasionally approached by artists. They also participate in active pitch-work and networking to find new and bigger clients.
  • Advanced-level ghost producers are established and well-known names in the industry. These producers are approached by high-profile clientele, given the value that they deliver. At this stage, artists offer projects to ghost producers based on the unique flavor they bring to the table.

How ghost producers work also depends on their skill set.

Every ghost producer has a set range of skills related to their area of work which offers them a unique role to play for an artist. Based on the client’s needs, a ghost producer’s duties range from creating complete tracks to working on parts of a track, assisting artists with sound design, engineering a track, and even acting as consultants.

An artist could also approach ghost producers with an idea for a track and a solid vision but no means to execute it. The producers step in with their expertise, working with the client to bring their vision to light.

How do ghost producers make money?

Ghost producers earn from one-time amounts for selling their tracks, royalty shares of the release, or a combination of both.

  • Earning via one-time fees
    In most scenarios, ghost producers are paid a one-time amount for the purchase of their work. This work could be full productions, assistance with parts of a production, arrangement, mixing, mastering, or consultancy.
  • Earning via royalties
    High-profile artists bring with them a sizeable reach and consequently a bigger potential to make big bucks. It is, hence, economically feasible to take royalty shares from bigger clients, owing to the income that a release with them would generate.

Overall, it is profitable to charge an exclusive one-time fee for smaller projects and a combination of one-time amounts and royalty shares from bigger artists.

How do I sell Music as a Ghost Producer?

As a ghost producer, you can use two primary channels to sell your music, viz., online intermediaries, and networking.

  • Online intermediaries
    Ghost producers use online intermediaries, like websites that catalog ghost productions for clients, to sell their music. These websites collate and categorize music genre-wise from ghost producers across the globe, making it convenient for the clients to spot the sound they are looking for.

Websites also allow clients to register on the platform to buy readily available ghost-produced music, making it an easily accessible marketplace for both parties.

  • Networking
    Another way ghost producers can sell music is by making lots of commercially viable tracks and proactively pitching them to their target audience. Again, heavy networking is key for a broader, potential customer base. The wider a ghost producer’s network, the more opportunities they have at hand. The producer can introduce their music to the network using emails, word-of-mouth, references, and on better days, even in-person meetings.

More information on this can be found through this video by Multiplier:

Make Money from Your Music | How to Get into Ghost Producing

How much do ghost producers make?

The amount a ghost producer makes ranges between $300 to $5000 depending on their quality, expertise, and the scope of work they undertake. Well-established ghost producers also charge amounts exceeding $10,000.

Early on, entry-level ghost producers do not make much per track. In addition to this, the music they sell to clients often does not taste the commercial success of an experienced producer’s work. This stage, nevertheless, is crucial for learning, growth, and development, as they invest time in making real connections, networking, making contacts, and building a diverse and exhaustive portfolio of work. As they keep gaining experience, the quality of work they do and receive witnesses considerable growth, leading to an increase in the income generated per track. Sometimes, experienced producers even end up striking royalty-percentage deals with highly successful artists, which substantially increases their income.

Why do DJs use ghost producers?

DJs use ghost producers for multiple reasons. Some prefer performing to producing, while others hire ghost producers to lend a refreshing touch and uniqueness to their repertoire. Phases of creative blocks and stagnant monotony also see DJs reaching out to ghost producers. 

In most cases, DJs co-produce with ghost producers. They collaborate to create something unique and possibly better than the DJ’s otherwise solo work. In these cases, the ghost producer receives credit for the work in the metadata of the release.

DJs often delegate production responsibilities to another music producer to focus primarily on the performance and the live experience they wish to deliver to the audience. Owing to the success some DJs achieve, they may not even find the time to produce music.

DJs also employ ghost producers in situations where they look for a change in their sound. Hiring another producer to work on a track renders it a fresh look and feel and differentiates it from the rest of the DJs discography.

Is it bad to use a ghost producer?

Hiring a ghost producer is completely acceptable because there is nothing amoral about utilizing a talent pool of passionate, studio-focused individuals keen on offering their services to those who have the resources to make the best of it. 

Essentially, producing music and performing it are two separate job profiles. While some artists tend to like both, some gravitate towards one of them.

An artist that prefers the spotlight, performing for tens of thousands of people in big arenas and the life it brings with it, might not necessarily have the time, energy, skill, or expertise required to produce music. Hence, it is completely fair for them to employ a ghost producer to work on their music, focusing entirely on delivering the audience an experience they’re known for. 

Similarly, someone who prefers anonymity, being in the studio, and making music might not be comfortable with the idea of performing it. They might not be comfortable with the popularity and attention or being on a stage in front of thousands of people. Ghost producing gives such artists a way to make a living off of something they love to do, that is, making music while still shunning the spotlight.

What Are The Best Ghost Production Websites?

There are a plethora of websites that help kickstart your ghost production career. Following are the top 5 websites that you can sign up on to publish your music and amplify it to clients.

These websites host your music and funnel it to an audience of artists you wish to target.

Entry-level producers can use Fiverr and Upwork to pitch their work to potential clients and connect with clients looking for a ghost producer.

Conclusion

Ghost production has been around for a long time in the music industry and will be around for even longer. It is a service that artists enjoy giving to maintain anonymity and one that artists enjoy receiving.

It is just as viable and acceptable for someone to make a living solely in the studio, producing music and doing what they love, as it is for someone to do the same with a focus on live performance and branding. Some of the most influential artists in the scene received their start through ghost production. Whether one wishes to maintain anonymity or use the experience gained as a launchpad for their careers is a personal choice, both are equally acceptable options.

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