How Do Ghostwriters Work: Everything You Need To Know About The Ghostwriting Process (Music)

Do you have a great idea for a song, but don't know how to write it down? Or maybe you're too busy with other commitments to write your own music. That's where ghostwriters come in! But how do ghostwriters work? And how can you make sure that you're hiring the right ghostwriter for your project?

This article will explain everything you need to know about how ghostwriters work and the process of hiring one. Keep reading to learn more!

How Do Ghostwriters Work: Everything You Need To Know About The Ghostwriting Process (Music)

What Is A Ghost writer In Music?

A ghostwriter is basically your behind-the-scenes genius, crafting songs, lyrics, or even instrumental pieces for another artist, all while staying out of the spotlight.

They're not there to invent the wheel but to finesse what's already cooking. Think of them as your secret sauce for editing or rewriting to elevate the final product.

This isn't just a music thing, though. Ghostwriting happens across creative fields, from penning novels to composing tunes.

In the pop world, a ghostwriter will whip up lyrics and melodies that vibe with the style of the artist getting all the credit.

And get this—some of today's chart-toppers kicked off their careers by ghostwriting bangers for other big names.

But let's keep it real: not everyone's a fan. Some folks question the authenticity of using a ghostwriter.

Usually, there's a hush-hush agreement, a confidentiality clause, that keeps the ghostwriter's identity under wraps.

How Does Ghostwriting Work?

As mentioned above, ghostwriters can do a variety of things when it comes to music. But, generally speaking, they will help you with the songwriting process.

This includes brainstorming ideas, writing lyrics, and putting together melodies or hooks for your songs.

A ghostwriter is one who is an experienced songwriter and in many cases a successful musician themselves in their own right; however, this is not always. the case.

There are many songwriters of famous songs that nobody would ever know unless they researched it – most people think the singer or rapper is responsible for the song lyrics 100% of the time, when in fact, most do not write their own songs at all!

You may be interested in this, for instance… Does Nicki Minaj Write Her Own Music?

How Much Does A Ghostwriter Cost? 

How Much Does A Ghostwriter Cost? 

It depends on the songwriter's experience and the length of the song. Generally, a hired ghostwriter will charge by the hour, with rates ranging from $50 to $200 per hour.

For a song that is 3-5 minutes long, it would typically cost between $300 and $1,000 to have a professional ghostwriter write it for you.

Keep in mind, these figures are for the average person looking to hire a freelance ghostwriter for their projects and not reflective of what major labels would pay for a ghostwriter.

In the case of major record labels, we are talking tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands for such services, depending on the song-writer.

Do Ghostwriters Get Credit?

Do Ghostwriters Get Credit?

It depends on the contract. Generally, ghostwriters are not given credit for their work, but sometimes they are. It also depends on how involved the ghostwriter is in the songwriting process.

If they contribute a lot of lyrics or melody ideas, then they may be given credit. But if they just help with some basic structural or lyrical ideas, then they probably won't be given credit.

The ghostwriter will typically sign a contract that stipulates that their name will not be attached to the song or album. There are a few notable exceptions, but for the most part, ghostwriters remain anonymous.

Do You Need to Credit a Ghostwriter If You Hire One?

Generally, no, you do not. If you hire a music ghostwriter to write a song for you, you are the one who will be credited as the songwriter.

This is because a ghostwriter is a professional songwriter – it is their job to provide this service and that is what they are being hired for “ghost” writing.

How Do Ghostwriters Get Paid: Do Ghostwriters Get Royalties?

How Do Ghostwriters Get Paid - Do Ghostwriters Get Royalties?
How Do Ghostwriters Get Paid? Do Ghostwriters Get Royalties

No, ghostwriters do not get royalties. They are paid a one-time fee for their services and that is it.

However, some may negotiate a percentage of the song's publishing rights in their contract. This means they would get a portion of the song's earnings each time it is played on the radio or sold as a download or CD.

But, again, this varies from ghostwriter to ghostwriter and contract to contract.

How Does the Process of Hiring a Ghostwriter Work?

There's no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the process of hiring a ghostwriter for music will vary depending on the specific needs and preferences of the artist or band.

However, in general, the process of working with a ghostwriter will typically involve meeting with the writer to discuss the project and sharing ideas, sending drafts back and forth, and then revising and finalizing the song together.

In general,

  • The artist reaches out to a ghostwriter and discusses what he or she is looking for.
  • The ghostwriter produces a sample track or two based on the artist's specifications.
  • The artist decides whether or not to hire the ghostwriter.
  • If the artist hires the ghostwriter, they work together to create a full album or songwriting project.

In other cases, the song is already written and the record label may have an artist in mind to record it.

What Are the Benefits of Working with A Ghostwriter

What are the benefits of working of ghostwriter

There are a number of benefits to working with a ghostwriter, the main one being that you get to work with a professional songwriter who can help you write a great song (typically better than your own writing abilities).

But beyond that, here are some other benefits:

  • You get to focus on your music and not on writing songs.
  • You don't have to worry about how to structure or write a song.
  • You can get outside perspectives and ideas from someone who is objective.
  • The process is usually quicker than if you tried to write the song on your own.
  • You can have multiple songs written by different ghostwriters to help create a more diverse album.
  • In general, working with a ghostwriter can save you time, energy, and frustration when it comes to writing songs. It can also help you create better, more professional-sounding songs.

Are There Any Negatives To Working With A Ghostwriter?

There are a few potential negatives to working with a ghostwriter, the main one being that it can be expensive. Hiring a professional songwriter is not cheap and you will have to factor that into your budget.

In addition, you may not have as much creative control over the song if someone else is writing it for you.

Lastly, some people may see working with a ghostwriter as not being real or you being unoriginal (more so in rap/hip hop music as rap lyrics are supposed to be the story of the rapper inspired by his or her real-life experiences) – but, again, this is not always the case.

How to Find the Best Ghostwriter for Your Needs

Hiring a ghostwriter can be tricky if you do not already have a selection of songwriter contacts you can call upon. You will need to start online and do thorough research. Here are some tips to help this process go smoothly.

  • Ask Around for Recommendations
  • Find Someone Certified in Your Genre of Music
  • Communicate With Them Regularly and Clearly Communicate Deadlines
  • Have Them Write First Drafts Rather Than Co-Writing More Complex Parts of the Song – This will help to ensure that your ideas are not getting lost.

Ghostwriting Jobs For Beginners

If you are a songwriter hoping to make a career as a ghostwriter, you may want to know more about ghostwriting jobs for beginners with no music industry credibility. Here are some tips on how to get started:

Start Online

The best way to find ghostwriting jobs is to start by looking online. There are many websites that list freelance writing opportunities, and most of these sites also have a section for ghostwriting jobs.

Show Your Work

You will need to have a body of work to show potential clients. This can be in the form of a portfolio, your own recorded demos, any existing songs you have written for people (even if they are friends singing them) or you can provide writing samples that demonstrate your ability to write songs.


Be prepared to do some research on how to price your services. Ghostwriting rates vary depending on the project and the experience of the writer. It is important to be aware of what typical rates are so that you don’t undercut yourself, or worse, overprice your services.

Write For Free (I know, but hear me out…)

One of the best ways to get experience as a ghostwriter is to write for free. There are many artists who are looking for someone to help them with their music but don’t have the funds to pay a professional writer.

Offer your services for free in exchange for testimonials and public (social media) credit. This will help you build a portfolio of work and also get your name out there as a songwriter.

Be Flexible

When you are starting out, it is important to be flexible with your rates and open to negotiation. As you gain more experience, you will be able to command higher fees for your services.


How Much Do Ghostwriters Make per Song

This is a big one, how much are ghostwriters paid and do ghostwriters get royalties? u003cbru003eu003cbru003eGhostwriters usually get a one-time fee that can vary wildly. For your everyday person u003cstrongu003eu003cemu003ehiring a freelance ghostwriter,u003c/emu003eu003c/strongu003e you're looking at anywhere from u003cstrongu003e$300 to $1,000 for a 3-5 minute song. u003c/strongu003eu003cbru003eu003cbru003eBut if we're talking u003cstrongu003emajor record labelsu003c/strongu003e, those numbers can skyrocket into theu003cstrongu003eu003cemu003e tens or even hundreds of thousandsu003c/emu003eu003c/strongu003e. u003cbru003eu003cbru003eu003ca href=u0022 to Forbesu003c/au003e, ghostwriters often get between $10,000 and $20,000 upfront. u003cbru003eu003cbru003eAs for royalties, it's a mixed bag. Some contracts offer a slice of the song's earnings, especially when it comes to radio plays or streaming. u003cbru003eu003cbru003eBut generally, the industry leans more toward u003cemu003ethat one-time payment, skipping the royalties.u003c/emu003e

Are Ghost Writers Credited?

u003cstrongu003eGhostwriters are not always credited for their worku003c/strongu003e, but sometimes they are, u003cstrongu003eu003cemu003edepending on the contract u003c/emu003eu003c/strongu003eand how involved they are in the songwriting process. u003cbru003eu003cbru003eIf they contribute a lot of u003cemu003elyrics or melody ideasu003c/emu003e, then they may be given credit. Butu003cstrongu003e if they just help with some basic structural or lyrical ideas, u003c/strongu003ethen they probably won't be given credit.

Is Ghostwriting Legal?

Yes, music ghostwriting is legal. However, the legality of music ghostwriting can get a bit murky depending on the specifics of the contract and the arrangement between the writer and artist.u003cbru003eu003cbru003eGenerally speaking, when someone hires a ghostwriter to write lyrics or a song for them, the writer will sign over all their rights to the work to the artist. This means that even if the song becomes a massive hit, the writer will not be able to earn any royalties from it. u003cbru003eu003cbru003eAdditionally, if the artist decides to use a different writer for future songs, they are not obligated to credit or compensate the first writer at all.

What Is a Ghostwriter in Rap?

A ghostwriter in rap is the same and does the same as any other type of ghostwriter. They are hired to write lyrics for a musician or artist who either doesn't have the time, can't write lyrics, or just doesn't want to. u003cbru003eu003cbru003eAs ghostwriters are often uncredited for their work, and with the negative stigma attached to not writing your own bars, it's pretty common for rappers to deny that they've ever used one.

Final Thoughts

Working with a ghostwriter can be a great way to ease the songwriting process while still maintaining creative control over your music. It is important to do your research and find the best ghostwriter for your needs, as well as be clear about the direction you want your song to go.

Have multiple songs written by different ghostwriters to help create a more diverse album. If you are looking for someone to help write your next big hit, consider working with a ghostwriter!

Do you have any questions or thoughts about working with a ghostwriter? Let us know in the comments below!

About Author

Arielle P

Arielle P

Songwriter | Music Producer | Engineer.

With a background in music production and a strong passion for education, Arielle is dedicated to helping emerging artists navigate the music industry. She has worked with a diverse range of artists, from indie rock bands to well-known hip-hop and grime artists. Arielle's unique approach to teaching focuses on empowering artists to take control of their brand, ensuring they retain creative ownership throughout their journey. In her free time, she enjoys experimenting with new sounds in her home studio and sharing her insights through music production tutorials and workshops.

📧 Email Arielle