Ghost producer. Just a whiff of those two words brings the trolls and haters out of the woodwork faster than Donald Trump can single-handedly destroy the GOP. So why do so many people get so upset about these "ghost producers" and what's this really all about?
For starters, let us clear things up a little bit about the actual definition of a ghost producer. A ghost producer is a professional that is hired to create a song for an artist/DJ and remains completely anonymous. In most cases, there are air-tight contracts that prevent the ghost producer from ever identifying themselves or even sneezing a hint to their buddies. Why? Because if word gets out that your favorite artist/DJ can't make their own music it could be really bad news for their fans and career in general.
Where the contempt comes into play is when that artist or DJ has virtually no creative input on the track that is produced. They simply might say I want a really good "big room" track that sounds a lot like "Animals," let's just call it "Amphibians" and make it put some tropical house vibes into it, you know... "BIG ROOM TROPICAL HOUSE."
Then the ghost producer sends over some cuts and that DJ decides which ones to put his or her name on. So if you found out your favorite DJ wasn't even phoning it in but simply just sticker slapping their name on a finished product, wouldn't that bum you out? Maybe or maybe not....some people just don't care.
So here is where A LOT of the confusion comes from. Many producers/engineers that are accused of being "ghosts" will often have their names in the fine print as a co-producer. They actually work on the track with the artist/producer in a collaborative fashion often bringing some expertise to the situation like basslines, beats or vocals. This type of co-production is quite common and legit because it's all transparent.
In fact, many producers don't even touch the controls, they are masters of creating the perfect sound almost like the manager of a baseball team creates the perfect roster. They are completely present during the entire process, tweaking lyrics and arrangements, etc. So the definition of a producer is often a very layered one as there are so many skill sets that one can have and be a "producer."
Not all engineers/producers that work the software know how to create great songs, they just know how to put the pieces together so it sounds good. Some guys can do both, but that's rare because there is such an immense skill set needed to be truly a master in all of those departments. There are guys that are just good at mastering, and that's it.
So who should point your "haterade" at? Well that's really up to you, just make sure your "ghost producer" isn't actually in the fine print because that would make them a "Co-Producer."