Ghostproducing is getting more and more media attention. Everyone has a different opinion about it. But what’s all the fuss about? With this interview, we hope we can create a better vision of this subject and show the real world of ghost production.
This week we dive deeper into ghost production and organised an expert interview with Alex Larichev, a Russian producer and founder of EDM Ghost Production. Alex created many successful tracks for other people and makes a living of it.
Thanks for giving us the opportunity to interview you! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do?
Hey! Thanks for inviting me. It’s always titillating talk about my work. I’m a dance music producer. I was releasing mostly progressive trance tracks under my name and I was disappointed by the low income and impact on my carrier. This has prompted me to launch a website offering ghost production, mixing, co-creation and other audio production services. Orders were coming quite frequently and I’ve expanded the service by allowing other producers to sell their finished tracks on my website. Ever since then my goal is to become the ultimate ghost production platform known all around the world.
Can you tell us about what Ghostproducing is and how big this industry is?
Well, ghost producer is a person who produces а track for another person who will be named as the author of that track. Ghost producers charge a flat fee for the music they produce. They waive all rights to the song and remain anonymous by signing a non-disclosure agreement. The difference between ghost and co-producers is that co-producers are always getting credited and they are not obliged to sign a non-disclosure agreement. I can’t really give any numbers or estimate the value at this stage, but I assume that at least 50% of established artists are not doing tracks just by themselves. And if we talk about newcomers, of course, there are thousands of real producers who are trying to break through to the scene.
How big is your platform now and what kind of music do you sell?
We are trying to be a medium-priced platform and are focused on quality tracks, rather than selling tons of low-quality tracks for low prices. The market is oversaturated and we trying to keep it flat-lined in our range. Producers spend a lot of time making tracks and the reward has to be appropriate. I think that’s why more and more producers are coming and staying with our platform. We are charting on top positions in search engines, we’ve been covered by a lot of media, especially with big magazines like Mixmag and DJ Mag. I also did masterclasses and panels about ghost production and generating an income as a music producer on conferences like Amsterdam Dance Event and Dancefair. In May I’m going to visit the International Music Summit on Ibiza where we will discuss an interesting panel called ‘Ghost Production – A Necessary Evil?”. I find those achievements quite big and that’s definitely reflecting on the company’s business. Our growth in sales in 2017 was 200% and 300% in 2018 compared to 2017. We sell EDM, and by EDM I mean dance music which was made on a computer. So basically, all genres which people can dance to. Even techno! Yes, - I call it EDM.
How many artists work for you? And how do you manage all the contacts between them and the buyers?
We work with 500 producers who submit songs to our shop. And I also work with a very small team of 5 people on custom-made orders. There is no contact between buyers and ghost producers. We think that only music matters, so if the buyer likes it – he can just make a very quick transaction and get the track with multitrack stems and a contract. On the other hands, there is a lot of communication going backstage with our management and producers. We have to validate producers and their tracks, make sure all contracts are properly signed and the content meets our standard for publishing a track. But if we are talking about custom-made orders. Buyers are always in touch with a manager of ghost producer about payments, revisions, files and so on.
What kind of genre’s or songs are a no-go with Ghostproducing? Or do you produce literally everything?
Literally everything, I even ghost produced a track for a video clip which was used as an advertisement for a real estate agency.
Do you have more long-term partnerships with big labels, or do you just sell mostly to individuals?
Labels don’t want to deal with ghost production and our business. They are trying to “avoid usage of ghost producers” in their releases. That’s why we work only with individuals. But it was fun to know in my recent conversation during Miami Music Week with a CEO of one of big dance music labels that he finds our platform interesting and he liked the business model behind it. He said that it’s good that we care about those who can’t make it as a DJ. It’s a contribution to the dance music scene. He just doesn’t like the other side of the coin, when producers are not being credited for their work.
You’re a talented person. Why don’t you choose to release all the music yourself?
Thank you! What’s the point in just releasing music, if I don’t see myself as a DJ? I think if you are making EDM and releasing it you should probably consider it as a business and become a performing artist. It’s hard work and it equals to running a regular company. It’s not just about releasing tracks anymore. Also, I don’t want to stick to a certain genre or style. Making different types of tracks is what makes me happy. As a DJ I wouldn’t be able to produce dubstep and deep house tracks at the same time, the fan base just wouldn’t accept it.
Do you think Ghost production is at a good spot right now? Or is it undervalued?
With the exposure on media and conferences, I think we are shedding light on ghost producers. Showing their motivation, their principles and various reasons why they’ve chosen this job. We also discuss the importance of crediting original authors, which was never a highly discussed topic. More and more people are starting to change their mind about ghost producers in a good way.
Why do you sell your tracks for a pre-chosen amount of money? Aren’t there better business models?
That’s an interesting question. I only see two ways of selling tracks, first is a pre-chosen amount and the second one is to sign a deal for royalties split. The reason why I didn’t choose second option is because waiting for royalties takes time. Also, if the buyer didn’t do proper promotion for a track you can get a zero statement and won’t get paid at all. So that’s why I chose the risk-free model when I’m getting paid for a track up front.
If a customer has crazy idea’s and might ‘’ruin’’ a track, do you deny the idea´s or is the customer always king?
I’m always making a track based on the customer’s idea and a reference track. But sometimes they are going off the route and suggest something that might ruin a track. I’m trying to convince them not to do it and reason why their idea would not work. Most of the time they agree, but sometimes I have to waste my time proving them that it was a bad idea. They just can’t think and imagine how the idea could sound without listening to the actual track. Sometimes I really wish certain buyers could think creatively and avoid spending my time on such revisions.
Can anyone be a ghost producer? and if so, do you have tips?
Yes, anyone who can make decent tracks can become a ghost producer. The hardest thing is to find your customer. And I’ve got a tip for it. First would be releasing your music under your own name and promoting your ghost production services through social media. The more exposure you get the more clients you have. Your achievements directly affect the price. And another one, if you don’t want to go that way, just try to make fresh or trendy music and upload it on audio-stocks like edm-ghost-production.com, they will take care of advertising your track and finding a buyer for it. There is no secret formula for success and we never know what buyers are looking for. But we definitely know that they are looking for cool melodies, great mixing and mastering quality and trendy or unique sound-design.
What is your own honest opinion about ghost producing?
I like how the word “honest” is emphasized in this question. To be really honest, I’d say that most ghost producers are getting the bad end of the deal. It’s making music for artists that have a profile, exploiting this music commercially and getting exposure for their brand. But nobody is insisting on ghost producers doing this job and signing those types of contracts. It’s their own choice and it’s bringing them money. They can re-invest this money in their career and studio which is a great opportunity. It’s better than working full day in some shop or in an office. I really enjoy what I’m doing, being in my studio, close to my house and family. Sometimes I have to travel 2-3 times a month and that’s too much and crazy for me. My body is devastated and I feel weak. I can’t imagine doing 4-8 or more international shows a month. And I’m happy that I can make music, make a living out of it and don’t travel too much.
Thank you very much for this interview! Is there anything that you’d like to share with our audience?
Just try to be less aggressive or arrogant while talking about ghost producers. We have various reasons for that and we also deserve a spot and recognition in the dance music industry. I know that you probably don’t like that some DJs are not fair with you or hiding the fact that they are using ghost or co-producers. But you wouldn’t get away from it. It’s a truth and this is how the music industry works. Top pop singers don’t write their lyrics and don’t play the guitars and other synths in their songs. Nobody knows about those people. Sometimes they are not even getting credit. But it’s well accepted in the pop world. Why don’t we accept it in EDM?