Loading...
Collapse of the Music Industry

"Ghost-Producing" Is EDM's Dirty Little Secret

Comments (5)

By

Mon, Jul 29, 2013 at 9:31 AM
click to enlarge CREDIT: MICHAEL MELWANI
  • Credit: Michael Melwani

You've heard of rap music ghostwriters, right? The guys who pen the words someone else performs, and get no credit for it?

A similar phenomenon is taking place in electronic dance music. In fact, a significant number of famous DJs aren't responsible for the music released under their names.

Those culpable usually have arrangements with an underling or an associate, ranging from commissioned edits and tweaks to outright purchases of entirely finished works. In fact, a whole industry of "ghost-producers" and engineers prop up the careers of a few brand name DJs who fistpump their way to fame and make millions.

The 13 Most Hardcore Ravers at Ultra

Though speculation is rampant, those in the industry are hesitant to explicitly out any of their peers. Superstar DJ David Guetta is most frequently mentioned as someone who's likely using ghost-producers. On his first three albums, almost every track credit lists French house pioneer Joachim Garraud as co-writer and producer. A notable DJ in his own right, Garraud wasn't even mentioned in the marketing, which was odd.

click to enlarge David Guetta - CREDIT: TIMOTHY NORRIS
  • Credit: Timothy Norris
  • David Guetta

Garraud himself was quoted as saying Guetta is "not a musician"and didn't know how to use a computer before they met, though he has since denied saying as much.

In any case, though the ghost-producing practice has been rumored for decades, recent revelations -- and subsequent outrage -- have brought it into the spotlight.

World's Douchiest DJs: The Top Five

London-based DJ and writer Ben Gomori noted that the practice was rampant in an article last year for Mixmag.

"I think it's pathetic," he tells us. "It's the apex of the materialistic, charlatan, ostentatious desire of certain types to become a 'superstar DJ' for the love of status rather than for the love of music."

Meanwhile, EDM duo PeaceTreaty told OC Weekly earlier this year: "When you get more involved and you start working with bigger people, having ghostwriters is just the way it is. Everyone that's big doesn't write their own music."

Naturally, then, there are those who make an honest living off of writing for big name DJs. Kenny Hanlon (not his real name) is the silent writing partner for a marquee name DJ -- you've heard of his boss.

Hanlon is your typical music nerd, a bookish 32-year-old technician with a nimble ear and a relentless stamina. He handles the vast majority of his employer's studio work from his bedroom in Pasadena.

"Most big DJs have a stable of writers, beats guys," he says. "For the most part these are young kids. Generally their payment is 5% of publishing...but 5% of a few million dollars is better than 50% of nothing."

Related Content

Now Trending

Los Angeles Concert Tickets

Slideshows

  • Air Guitar Championship Semifinals @ The Troubadour
    The Southwest Semifinals of the US Air Guitar Championship were held last Saturday at the historic Troubadour Club in West Hollywood. The event determined who would compete as regional representatives at the 2014 National Finals in Kansas City on August 9th. The colorful contestants (many of whom opted for elaborate codpieces) were judged by comedians Kristen Schaal and the Sklar Brothers. The top score was awarded to crowd-surfing guitarist Kingslayer, the mother of a teenage son who also competed wearing little more than an American flag bathing suit. All photos by Gustavo Turner.
  • Lucha VaVOOM @ The Mayan Theatre
    Lucha VaVOOM to The Mayan Theatre on Thursday night with a dose of their Sexy, Hot, Summer FUN! show to a packed house. With all the girls, guns and muscles what could go wrong? All photos by Timothy Norris.
  • The Best L.A. Concert Scenes of 2014 (So Far)
    With more secret shows, more once-in-a-lifetime performances, and more venues than any place else, there is no doubt that L.A. is one of the top places on the planet to see live music. Here are the best concert scenes of 2014 (so far).