July 19, 2016 by DJ Elroy
Recently came across the DJ Mag article “Ashley Wallbridge Stepping Out the Shadows” about a one-time ghost producer who has come clean — without naming names, of course — and said he’s never going to sell out again. (Actually, the article seemed like more of a subtle advert for his new project, but I digress).
“In an ideal world people would be credited for producing, engineering and co-producing so they can build their reputation. The uncredited NDA bullshit should stop. It’s also really unauthentic; you are selling the fans something totally fake. All these young kids thinking you’re a shit hot producer when actually you can’t even make a basic demo.”
But is ghost producing really that big of a deal? Why?
Let’s break it down.
First, it’s a voluntary agreement between the producer and the artist. They both benefit from the arrangement; the artist gets a (hopefully decent) song, the producer gets money. Neither is forced into it.
Sure, the ghost producer may never get the recognition he deserves, but there’s also a chance he’d never have his music heard otherwise. It’s his decision to make, right?
But I recently talked about sampling and stealing in another blog post. How does ghost writing tie into that debate?
Yes, ghost producers can whine about the NDAs and they might get angry if some of their tracks actually blow up and they don’t get credit, but we don’t need to feel sorry for them. And for every hit song a ghost producer releases, how many duds are there? He’s not the one taking a risk in the big picture; it’s the artist.
I do agree with Wallbridge’s second point. My biggest problem with ghost production is that the artist takes credit for something he didn’t do. He’s misrepresenting himself to his fans. It may not be lying per se, but it’s still some shady shit. As Wallbridge says, it’s certainly “unauthentic” and “fake”.
But this is DJing. And
many most DJs simply play music from other people. Sure, you’ve got the live acts and the jocks who tweak and edit their songs to fit their own unique style, but for the most part DJing is still dropping a variety of songs from a variety of artists. It’s not like most of them are up there in the booth creating original music. (For the record, I’m in no way saying that DJing is the same as ghost producing; my point is simply that jocking is built on borrowed music).
So really, who cares? What do you expect from your DJ? I think putting on a good show is the top priority. And yes, a good show can be faked, too. But how many non-DJs in the crowd notice what’s going on behind the scenes? How many people (trainspotters excluded) get more excited about who wrote a song than they get actually hearing it?
This brings up another issue: why are ghost producers needed at all? Why can’t a DJ make it on his sets alone? Why are hit tracks required to make it big?
Actually it’s not really hard to understand. It’s the music business.
So what do you think about ghost producing? Or the state of the industry that demands hit singles in order to get paying gigs? Does anyone really care? Have you boycotted artists because you think their music is ghost produced? Would you boycott them if you found out? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.