6 Common Client-Side Ghost Production Myths Debunked
As a seasoned ghost producer (of mostly electronic dance music), I sometimes come across clients who have ideas that seem somewhat askew. Sometimes it’s amazing, sometimes it’s just misinformed. I’ve decided to share a list in no particular order of common myths debunked for the potential ghost production clients out there, which will hopefully give you some tips on how to do business in the world of ghost production.
But first, let’s tackle some often incorrectly attributed titles, and their meanings in the electronic dance music world — which often vary between industries, and even within musical genres.
Producer: A producer is usually from the ground up the creator of the track. The driver of the tools, the audio mixing engineer, the sound designer, the arranger and composer.
Co-Producer: Someone who works alongside the Producer.
Executive Producer: An executive producer helps define the direction, brings the overall quality level up and can give a track an overall polish.
Ghost Producer: A producer hired to write music for someone else, with their name not appearing in artist name or track title — hence ‘ghost’. Ghost Producers do however sometimes appear in the credits.
COMMON MYTHS DEBUNKED
1. ‘I can get a track for $500 from Joe Ghostie down the road.‘ ~ The aim of getting a record out should NOT be ‘to get a record out, no matter what the case’. The problem here is you are sacrificing quality for the sake of saving some money just to get a record out. Make an amazing record and people will look at you. Make a run of the mill, yawn-worthy record, and people will look away, and more importantly most likely not look again. Who you work with defines the quality of work you produce, which can either limit or expand your audience. Choose wisely.
2. ‘My royalty split from the record you wrote for me is too low.’ ~ By rights, the writer should get 100%. You’re lucky you are getting anything, as it’s IP (intellectual property) we are talking about. If your producer has offered up a percentage of the royalties and you aren’t in the studio, it’s a generous hat-tip and you should be grateful. You are getting tracks written for you because you want more gigs, not because you want to make money on the records — although that’s what you think is going to happen. However, if you were in the studio with the producer for the duration of the writing, a fair split should be agreed upon.
3. ‘I’m hoping to make big moolah on these records!‘ ~ Sorry, but that’s generally not the nature of the beast i’m afraid. You are more likely to make big moolah touring than on your record. As Axwell once said ‘records are business cards for touring’ (or something along those lines). To that end — you should expect to make a return on investment from the production of the record via gigs, not sales or royalties. In most cases, 1 or 2 gigs will cover production (depending on the producer & cost) of a record that would hopefully net you many gigs.
4. ‘You’re doing this record for me, can you get it signed for me?’ ~ A common misconception that it is the job of the ghost producer to get the record signed. Unfortunately, this is not the case, unless of course it is part of your agreement with the producer.
5. ‘Can I pay you only if the record gets signed?‘ ~ Do you get your groceries from the supermarket, and only pay for them if you eat them? Do you pay for a magazine only if you read it? Although ghost production is a service, it is also a product, and someone has to spend the time creating it, and thus, needs to be paid for that time whether or not that product finds a route to market.
6. ‘I LOVE what you’ve done, I just love this record so much!‘ [3 months later] ‘I’m not really feeling it now… do you think we could try a different angle?‘ ~ When paying for someone to produce for you, you are paying for the product that you OK when you leave the studio with it in your hands. That OK is pretty much final with maybe some exceptions for minor changes. Paying for them to produce a record for you does not permit carte blanche slavery until you finally get a record that you love for more than 2 weeks or 3 months in a row. So be sure, and get it right the first time you say “it’s done!”
Along with founding Vocalizr.com, Luke Chable has produced, co-written and executive produced techno, tech, deep house, house, EDM, progressive house, future house (aka garage), nu disco, electro, DNB, and indie electronic for artists from unknown to well known.