One of the most patently bizarre instances of the unfair criticism that EDM ghost production receives is evidenced by the difference in public animosity towards DJs who use ghost producers versus mainstream artists who use ghostwriters or EDM producers for their tracks.
The likes of Justin Bieber, Britney Spears, and Lady Gaga have all used ghostwriters for their music, and many mainstream artists often rely on ghostwriters and producers as the sole source of creativity for their songs.
But in the mainstream music industry, the use of ghostwriters by artists is openly discussed and rarely condemned. Dr.Dre, one of the most prominent names in hip-hop, had the lyrics for his biggest selling hit, “Still Dre” written by Jay-Z because he couldn’t, “come up with nothing dope”. He is still adored and put on a pedestal by his many fans.
In the realm of EDM, ghost production is often chastised by critics who see it as outright deception. DJs found to use ghost producers are frequently called frauds. This contrast in attitudes represents a clear case of double standards in two closely tied industries.
In many ways, the majority of mainstream singers have it easier than EDM DJs. The role of the pop singer can usually be boiled down to singing and touring. Any studio work typically involves a producer who excels at combining the vocals with the chosen backing track.
DJs are required to perform multiple roles; they work as sound engineers, deliver live performances, market themselves, and produce the music. The latter involves many other duties, including mixing/mastering tracks and composing with various instruments.
If a DJ skips any of the responsibilities involved in making a track and enlists the help of a ghost producer, that DJ is automatically referred to as a fraud who can’t produce their own music. This is in spite of the fact that the expectations of an EDM producer are much higher than those of a mainstream singer.
When contrasting the attitude to ghost producers in EDM with the reaction to mainstream artists who require help with the entire creative process, one notes the lack of criticism directed towards the mainstream artists. Something here does not compute, and that something is a blatant lack of understanding about the advantages of ghost production in the EDM scene.
In this startling video, it is revealed who actually wrote a number of famous pop songs, and it is never the singers themselves. Most notable is the case of British songwriter Jessie J, who talks about how writing for Miley Cyrus’ “Party in the USA” paid her rent for three years.
Aspiring EDM producers are often dissuaded from becoming ghost producers because it is apparently hurting their ambitions. Tell that to Martin Garrix, Ashley Wallbridge, and Hardwell, and they’ll all reply that they wouldn’t have made it in EDM without the help of ghost production.
In pop music, artists such as Katy Perry and Kelly Clarkson have been in collaboration for years, often writing music for each other. Kelly Clarkson wrote Katy Perry’s huge hit “Roar” and even publicly thanked the Texan singer for her creative input, as the track’s success enabled Katy Perry to purchase a house in Malibu. In EDM, a DJ’s reputation could be ruined by offering a simple public declaration of another artist’s paid input on their music.
Even the wonderful vocal jazz singer – Frank Sinatra – had a team of songwriters who wrote the lyrics to many of his songs. In contrast, the attitude in EDM is that if a DJ has a team of producers creating music for him/her now and then, this is equivalent to deceiving the fans.
Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller are credited as the writers on “Jailhouse Rock” and “Hound Dog”, which are two of Elvis’ most well-known pieces of music. It was his charisma and unique voice that propelled these creative works to fame.
The blatant truth that sticks out like a sore thumb between mainstream music and EDM is that there is a cynical attitude towards using ghost producers in electronic music, while there is an acceptance and understanding in mainstream pop music that singers simply don’t always have the time or the creative power to be involved with all aspects of the creative cycle at all times.
EDM and ghost production critics could do with considering all facets of the production process before drawing hasty and incorrect conclusions about ghost production.
If these critics could open their eyes to what goes on in mainstream music, they’d realize that enlisting the help of talented people for their inputs in complex creative processes is a perfectly normal thing to do.
The contrast with mainstream music couldn’t be clearer, and the evidence is that ghost production in EDM should be celebrated as a normal and completely rational practice instead of being unfairly ridiculed.