A ghost producer is an individual that composes music for other artists for a fee who then releases the music under their own name and does not credit the ghost producer.
But that’s not all there is to it.
Being a ghost producer can have different meanings in the music industry which I will explain further with some examples.
Afrojack Ghost Production/Collaboration With David Guetta – “Titanium”
It is not uncommon for artists and producers to work together on tracks. Sometimes this is done as a favour to a friend. Between large and successful artists who are signed to major record labels, it gets more complicated.
Afrojack collaborated with David Guetta on the track “Titanium”. When writing the contract Afrojack chose not to receive writing credits for his involvement. His reason for this was that he didn’t want to associate his brand with the more mainstream David Guetta.
Afrojack has spoken about it as being one of his biggest regrets as an artist. You can read more about that here in his interview with Business Insider.
In this case the work done by Afrojack was not featured as one of the track’s writers but it was not a secret that Afrojack had co-written the track. This kind of ghost production is very common. Especially with larger artists that work with their peers and sometimes decide not to publicly display a writing credit for whatever reason.
KSHMR Ghost Produces for Borgeous
In 2016 contracts between KSHMR and Borgeous were leaked showing that KSHMR was ghost producing tracks for Borgeous. These contracts clearly showed the payments from Borgeous. The agreement also stated that KSHMR was waiving all rights to the tracks as the producer and would not be named publicly as being associated with the track.
These contracts went into more depth about the secrecy around the productions and the privacy that was required. You can find a full run down of these details over here.
This method of ghost production is more widely described as real ghost production as the identity of the producer was kept secret. Although Borgeous was proven to be a producer and to have released his own tracks in the past, these productions were not created by him and were ghost productions.
Alan Walker The Ghost Produced Sensation
In some cases artists can be manufactured by record labels. They do this by creating a cool brand, catchy music and powerful marketing campaigns and then using a person to be the face of this brand. Alan Walker is an artist that has what seems to be zero knowledge of music production. His entire career as an artist has been ghost produced.
Alan Walker is an example of an artist who utilises multiple ghost producers. He most likely has a ghost production team that works for his record label and are employed to write songs for him. This infamous video clip showed his lack of studio knowledge and was an assurance to anyone with an ounce of music production experience that he had been using ghost producers throughout his entire career: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EQICxkZPUc4
Ghost Production Can Be A Powerful Tool
As someone who has worked in the music industry and with major record labels it cannot be understated how powerful ghost producers can be to an artist. There are so many different elements that come into a successful career. Sometimes utilising assistance from a ghost producer can be the thing that takes an artist to the next level. I go into more depth about that in my post about if using a ghost producer is bad.
This can be seen with all of these examples from the more organic and publicly known collaboration of Afrojack and David Guetta to the secretive nature of someone like Alan Walker, who was actually pretending to be a music producer when all of his music was created by ghost producers.
You should have a better understanding of what a ghost producer is. If you want to know how ghost producers do their job you can read more about that here.