KSHMR and Norwegian DJ/producer Alan Walker are two men who offer an intriguing insight to anyone who wants to learn more about the inherent value of ghost production. Both men harness the power of ghost production to let the music shine at the end of the day, but they approach it from markedly different angles.
KSHMR is a hugely talented producer specializing in Big Room House and Electro House. Over the years, the California native has guided his EDM career in a direction that seems to suit his lifestyle. He has performed at some huge EDM festivals, such as Coachella and Tomorrowland in front of adoring fans. He has released his own tracks, which have millions of hits online. So, KSHMR clearly doesn’t totally avoid the spotlight.
However, KSHMR has also had quieter periods during which he mostly ghost produced music for some of the biggest names in EDM, including Tiesto and DVBBS.
His career actually began with him focusing on making music, which resulted in the emergence of tracks like Tsunami by DVBBS and Borgeous, Slow Down by Selena Gomez, and Like a G6 by Far East Movement; the latter while he was part of The Cataracts.
Even though DVBBS and Tiesto are the two main artists he’s known to ghost produce for, KSHMR’s production credits extend beyond just EDM hits. Songs he’s credited as a writer for include Chris Brown’s Better With The Lights Off, Sweat by Snoop Dogg, and Heart Attack by Enrique Iglesias.
KSHMR then branched out, using his experience and exposure, to build his own brand for a while releasing tracks under his own name and performing in the role of DJ at several music festivals during a helter-skelter 2016. Tracks such as Bazaar, Wildcard, and Dharma became big hits in EDM.
In 2017, the number of gigs KSHMR performed markedly declined, as he presumably wanted a hiatus from the public life to focus again on production, most likely a mix of ghost production and producing tracks for his own brand. It’s evident that ghost production provides talented producers with a solid option for when they want to shy away from the limelight and just focus on making music that sounds great.
KSHMR is also a shrewd operator. Even though it is widely agreed upon that Tiesto had little to no production role in mega-hit Secrets, it was released as a collab between KSHMR and Tiesto. KSHMR understands that releasing some tracks under the Tiesto brand is likely to drive much more exposure than releasing everything he produces under his own name.
At the end of the day, it’s clear KSHMR wants the music to shine. As one Reddit user so eloquently put it, “Who gives a f*** who produced what. If it sounds good to me, I’m gonna listen to it. End of story.”
Alan Walker, on the other hand, is not someone who ghost produces music for other artists. Rather, he is well known to use ghost producers and co-producers to help make practically all his tunes. Alan Walker began his career as a relatively average producer releasing progressive house and electro house tracks under the royalty-free NCS label. However, he struck gold with the release of Fade in 2014; a track that became the most popular on the NCS YouTube channel, with over 300 million views.
Sony, paying attention to the popularity of Fade, signed Alan Walker, and there was then a noticeable step up in the quality of his tunes. A much-maligned YouTube walkthrough for his Alone track conveyed the impression that Walker’s actual input on the track was minimal. This video appeared to verify rumors within EDM that Alan Walker is now just the face of a brand, and the actual music he releases is mixed and mastered by other producers who have greater technical knowledge.
Walker’s latest album, Different World, is a case-in-point that highlights the extent to which he gets help from other producers. Released in December 2018, Different World is a pop/ future bass compilation, and the production credits for every single track video on YouTube feature names other than Alan Walker as composer.
The same names appear frequently in the album’s production credits, including Jesper Borgen, Marcus Arnbekk, and Kenneth Nilsen. This lends credence to the argument that artists releasing under the NCS label operate as a collective. Perhaps Sony adopted this model and hired ghost producers to refine and enhance Walker’s signature sound but with the intention to release all those tracks under Walker’s brand.
It would be doing him a disservice to suggest Walker has no part in the creation of his music. Perhaps he begins with a melody or idea in mind, and then his ghost producers complete the track by adding the technical elements.
However light or heavy his input, the ghost production strategy for Alan Walker has paid off handsomely for everyone involved, including the fans. His brand operates like a well-oiled machine.
Without Walker’s signature melodies, which presumably come from the man himself, there would be no music to please his fans. Without the ghost producers who help refine his songs, the Alan Walker sound would probably become stagnant, and he wouldn’t be able to release as prolifically as he does.
Taken together, KSHMR and Alan Walker are at opposite ends of the ghost production spectrum. One produces music for other artists while the other is well-known to enlist the help of other producers to make his music.
But even though they are opposites, KSHMR and Alan Walker are like the yin and yang; opposites that are part of a complete whole. That whole is the production and release of high-quality EDM tracks.
Ghost production arrangements ensure the underlying producers are paid handsomely for their talents and get to do what they love, which is to make music. But just as important, ghost production spreads the wings of electronic music to as many people as possible. And at the end of the day, the music is what matters above all.