Are Production Schools Making The Next Wave of Ghost Producers?

EDM is a $6.2 billion industry that has grown from its roots in underground European club culture, raves, and private radio to the global phenomenon that it is today. The worldwide impact of EDM is particularly evident when viewing its rise on the Indian subcontinent, with Bollywood producers even incorporating dance music sounds into their movies.

This upsurge in growth has led to a new wave of interest in electronic music production around the world. It takes hard work, skill, and dedication to become a successful DJ in what is a competitive and fast-growing industry. Such is the influx of people interested in making electronic music that production schools have started to emerge with the aim of educating the next generation of superstar DJs to enter the industry. Education can provide a structured framework in which to correctly teach people all the technicalities of music production while unlocking their unique creative talents.

One fascinating example of a modern production school is Icon Collective, located in Los Angeles. In addition to a thorough education in the fundamental knowledge required to produce professionally mixed music, Icon Collective’s 12-month course teaches students how to thrive in the contemporary EDM business. Students learn how to build their own unique brand, protect their intellectual property, and how to conduct a successful social media marketing strategy to spread the word.

To showcase the impact that a structured education program can have on the chances of success in EDM, the school’s website displays a proud list of well-known alumni, featuring names such as Jauz, Kayzo, Slander, & NGHTMRE. The message Icon Collective promotes is clear: attend our course to become a famous DJ.

However, Icon Collective has existed for 13 years, and just 21 of the institution’s alumni are considered as noteworthy enough for a mention on the school’s website. The majority of these 21 famous alumni have only gained recognition within the last five years. Furthermore, a 2016 annual report from Icon Collective revealed 276 students enrolled in their music production course that year; only a small percentage of these will become famous DJs.

All these figures reveal an important truth—not everyone has what it takes to become a famous DJ. Ultimately, many of the participants in these types of courses will end up becoming ghost producers.

Tuition fees and equipment are expensive, and students can expect up to $39,000 of debt upon finishing their studies. For those vast majority of people who finish their music production course and don’t end up touring and performing, they will look towards other outlets for using their newly acquired skills to earn a living, and ghost production is one of the best methods.

It makes absolutely zero sense for someone to intensively study the art of music production and then give up on producing music as a viable career option just because that person doesn’t make it as a big-name DJ. Ultimately, ghost production offers a huge opportunity for post-graduate students of music production schools to get paid for their craft and continue doing what they are passionate about.

With the continued growth of EDM, expect to see more people trying to become music producers in search of their shot at emulating the likes of Tiesto and Armin van Buuren in gaining worldwide recognition. Not all of these people will make it, even after an intensive college course, meaning ghost production will ultimately grow as aspiring music producers search for a way to make a living with their music.