noun: a person whose job it is to write material for someone else who is the named author.
The topic of ghost writing has been floating around a lot for the past few months in the hip-hop world, thanks to Drake and Meek Mill’s on-going war of words. The crazy thing is that ghost writing shouldn’t be a source of embarrassment or shame, it happens all the time in the music industry.
In fact, you can thank ghost writing for helping a lot of your favorite R&B, Pop, Rock, etc artist get discovered. Grammy-winning artist like Beyonce, Rihanna, Diddy, and Elvis all have had ghost writers help them achieve their success.
To go even further, if you’re a talented lyricist, you might want to consider doubling down on your trade to find a quick route to getting into the music industry. Ne Yo, Keri Hilson and even Chuck Berry all got into the music industry through ghost writing for other established artist in order to get their foot into the door. The music industry is just life, you have to give a little in order get a lot in return.
Ghost writers always seem to find a way to provide that missing ingredient to artists. It makes you wonder, where would Elvis be without Chuck Berry’s contribution? Would Michael Jackson be the king of pop without assistance from Quincy Jones? I’m inclined to think not. A Lot of times when an artist wants to cross over, or reach a larger audience, they look to A&R teams to provide the ghost writers for help.
Ghost writers get into circles in many ways . Most signed artists have A&R’s that look for ways to maximize their artist’s ceiling because in most cases, artists just don’t have either the writing talent or they don’t have the mental space to think outside of the box. That’s where the ghost writers come into play.
This is how it works.
Ghost Writers are usually brought in to either give a track away (aka the Reference Track) or they come in and work with the artist and make a song from scratch. Artist usually ask top creatives to come work from scratch because that original influence is everything in the music industry. Part of the reason why Travis Scott wrote some songs for Rihanna is because she needed his energy, an energy that only he can give her. This is the same for ghost writers.
Ghost writers matter in this industry.
Success as a musical artist does not come easy. You have to put in a lot of work to get a look, no matter what role that you play. As a ghost writer if your song is chosen for album or single, and it sells, you will probably getting paid more than the artist you wrote for, through percentages of sales and royalties.
That’s why if you plan on being a professional ghost writer, it’s very important to make sure your contracts are sound and that comes with you building a reputation for yourself. You have to build a brand of writing good music and do not too proud to where you can’t give away music early in your career.
Everyone can’t be a star in this industry, so it’s important to find a role and excel in it. You never know where this road could take you. Being a ghost writer could lead you down a path to being next star like Taylor Swift and Future or you could make a great living by being the person behind the scenes like Dallas Austin and Static Major. These are just different ways to getting into the industry.