Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Steve Lukather Offers Up Some Real Talk On The Music Business As It Stands Today (Includes New Commentary From Luke)

Last Friday something kind of strange happened on my Facebook wall. It seems that someone 'liked' a photo I had posted way back in 2013 of Steve Lukather of Toto, Ringo Starr's All Starr Band (and probably a million recording sessions). Attached to the photo was a rant that Lukather had written concerning the state of the music business at that time.

Since last week the photo has been shared almost 6,000 times, and it has received some 1,200 comments, and those comments have been 95% in agreement with what Luke had to say.

Here's what Lukather said in his original comment:

Some serious truths from Steve Lukather: 
I just want to know something. ALL this pontificating about how Spotify and the like are the ’ answer ’ and how ’ the artists get paid’ etc.
How much? Really? WHO keeps tabs and accounting? 
Maybe I just don’t know. I don’t see any money and have A LOT of stuff out there over 35 years of making records.

Have you done the breakdown on what an artist get PER tune on iTunes? Pitiful.

Now IF you are with a label its even worse cause they take a huge share of that. The breakdown after all is said and done for most it’s pennies.
TOO many people can make records. Period.
No catalog artists are made these days. One hit wonders galore. Sad really.

Now record companies don’t give budgets like the old days when the great records were made cause they cost MONEY!! They want to make money for nothing and own you for life and a piece of EVERYTHING an artist does. You can sell a million and still OWE them!

My 25 year old son has buddies who have platinum records living in a one room studio apartment...Broke.

Of course back ‘then’ rec. companies cared about MUSIC and nurturing artists for a LONG term career and long term money.

Sure they got the Lions share but then they invested, believed and promoted it so there was SOME justification.

Now its ’ Beats’ and how many facebook hits or Youtube hits you get .. ALL which either make NO money or short term dog-shit money with no real way to account for it and truly suck for the most part.

What the fuck ? People want to be famous NOT good!

It is TOO easy to play ‘pretend pop star’ now. With all the fakery and auto tune-time correction -cut and paste etc.. fuck most young people don’t know how to play a song from top to bottom in a studio in tune and in time and with feeling?? Rare.

I am in the studios all the time and hear the stories from the producers and engineers.. and yet NO ONE cares that ’ so and so’ who sold a shit load of records ( how much IS that these days? ) cant sing or play.

They make ‘McRecords’ for people who don’t even really listen. It’s background music for people to either find a mate or shake their heads while texting or skyping or doing other things. Environmental noise for the multi-tasker.

Gone are the days of loving , dissecting, discussing the inner workings of ’AN ALBUM”… sitting in silence while it plays.. looking at the liner notes and the few photo’s IN the studio .. imagining what a magic place it music be to make such music…
You need a fucking jewelers eye to read the credits IF one even cares. Most don’t.
So if you keep blaming the ‘old antiquated artists’ who are the only REAL ones left.. who MAY make a great record once in awhile but may be overlooked cause the media chooses to care more about who is super gluing meat to their bodies and other ridiculous HYPE and bullshit to get attention rather than LISTENING hard to the music being made we might be in a different place.

When we were kids ( yes I will be 108 this year) there were only a handful or artists and they WERE great cause they HAD to be.
You could choose not to like some but outside the teenage fodder most deserved their success and NO ONE sounded alike ! No one!

We live in a McWorld that moves way too fast and now even the drugs suck. I mean when I was young and got high I never got naked foaming at the mouth and tried to eat someone’s face off.

Time to put on Dark Side of the Moon and chill.
Have a nice day and may real music come back and fill our ears. ( there IS some great stuff but you know what I mean ..)
REAL music played by REAL musicians. They ARE out there.
They just don’t get a lot of press anymore, or at all.”

(Steve Lukather)

In response to the few negative comments, which in true internet fashion were extremely nasty and offered little or nothing in reason, just vitriolic hate and misplaced anger, Steve was kind enough to respond with another long comment to help clarify his position.

Here are his latest comments:

This is an old rant-opinion. 
There are a million musicians better than me and I have had a most fortunate career I am very very grateful for and I have not been out of work in almost 40 years and my discography speaks for itself if anyone cares to look inside of writing me off as a 3 hit wonder. I am far from bitter. Sarcastic perhaps and IF you know me which most of you do not.. although a few do.. you would know I'm not a bitter asshole.  
I was speaking to the fact that record companies we signed to in perpetuity as kids make side deals and this lie WE see money is just that .. a lie. Ever audit a rec co? THAT is an eye opener. Read Walter Yetnicoffs book.. the head of Sony when we were signed in 1977 where in it he admits ' I ripped off every artist I signed' DO the homework instead of bashing at me saying I am old and bitter.. far far from it. 
 I have a great blessed career with my own band been in Ringo's band for 3 years and I have had a chance to work with almost all of my childhood hero's and LEARNED from them and have seen true genius at work. So humbling.. and I can say without malice or any bullshit attached I have earned the right to my opinion. I am saying that this new media has robbed the musicians , young and old of fair revenue. 
 Take a plumbers wage and tell him he just lost 90% of it due to new -FREE tech and see how he feels having a family to feed and take care of. ANY business for that matter! Hate my music all you want.. that is fine. I have done many things the haters may not be aware of but for the most part here.. MOST of you GET what I was saying in my 'nudge- nudge wink wink' sort of way and I am also sorry I may have bad grammar or a colorful way of expressing myself. 
 I feel bad for young upcoming musicians, one is my own son so I also am aware of the pitfalls of the young artists and there is some great new stuff.. and sorry about the reference to gaga as she can really sings great and has lost the need to shock for attention but come on.. Kanye singing the Queen classic.. a self proclaimed ' I am the greatest ever' ..bullshit. haha I NEVER said I was great. I am a lifer musician and that is all I ever wanted to be. MTV was also a brutal time for real players who were not models. 
 I could go on and on but all I want to say is thanks to the people that supported my little rant here and to the haters... well nothing I can do about that. Par for the course in internet world. I just think music has VALUE and the musicians that create it deserve a fair shake and profit. I wish you all a nice day and a nice life and please.. it is just an opinion. I would never call you names over a difference of opinion. Perhaps that is whats wrong with today.. it MUST be black or white. 
 We need a litle more grey -meet in the middle and or agree to disagree and less ' fuck you's.  
Steve Lukather is a very busy man. He's currently touring the world in support of a new album, and while he has a tremendous amount of things to do in relation to his professional obligations, he gives a shit enough to take the time to be a voice of sanity and reason at a time in which the music industry needs it more than ever.

Last night I saw a great show by the band Cracker, a band whose founder, David Lowery, is at the forefront of the fight for artists' rights to fair pay. He's another pro who is out on the road, diligently working a new album. These guys aren't going to sell a lot more platinum albums, and they know this - they are fighting for the future for all musicians, and it is high time that the world starts listening. 

Free music is not cool - it's all great until you realize that it will eventually mean the end of recorded music as a profession and a viable entity. It is time that the musicians of the world find a way to speak as a more singular voice, and they need the support of their fans and music lovers more than ever. The clock is ticking.... 


Lisa Lynn said...

It was clear to me the FIRST time I saw this rant that Luke is actually speaking for the very musicians who turned out with their hateful comments. Like he said, dislike his music if you choose (I personally LOVE everything I've heard him produce), but please respect the 40 years of experience and the wisdom that comes with those years in the studio, on the road, in the boardrooms of labels - all of it gives him (and his friends) the right to educate the public AND musicians about the unfairness that has run rampant in this industry. Yep, I'm a musician, too - it's HARD to get paid for great art, for performing it, for recording it, for writing it, for producing it. The world has become so saturated with Kanye-bullshit and our culture (especially in the U.S.) has become so dumbed-down regarding great art and the NEED for it in our human experience that it is nearly impossible to contribute to the body of art in the world and feed our families at the same time. Bravo to Luke, and thank you for posting this follow-up comment from him. God, he's so busy with the European tour and ALL that is making those high-school friends pinch themselves regarding the current buzz around their new record, that I'm impressed he took the time. Cool guy. Rock on, Luke...see you this summer in the U.S. peace+love~L

William Jennings said...

Luke has been rocking since I was in High School. And I'm 54! He is a master musician that has played on more albums by more artists than any musician I know of. The current model doesn't work. I'll be seeing Luke next month.. I think I'll go chill in my music room and listen to a Toto album. Peace Out!

Anonymous said...

Amen, Luke. You tell it like it is. Straight from the heart, no sugarcoating it. But it seems like loads of people just stopped caring about music as an art form, that has a real value, that lifts you up when you're down, that gives you joy, that inspires you to pick up an instrument. Today it's here today, gone tomorrow. And it has to be free. Someone like me (owning more than 3500 CDs - all officially bought) is an aberration, no more the norm, but back in the days all my friends used to buy music, now they stream.

And for a lot of the others it mostly is only about "who's on first" (as in charts not baseball) and not so much about is this a song, that people will wanna listen to in 10, 20, 30 years - just like you and the guys in TOTO have written more than three times. No one will be talking about Kanye West in 30 years, no matter how often he proclaims himself to be the greatest, even Lady Gaga might be an afterthought then (compared to someone like Madonna for example, and I said "might").

All I can say is: Luke, please stay the course, stay honest, don't pay too much attention to all the haters, who really don't care too much about music per se, but have to get the venom out of their system. You're fans will always be there - just as your music has always been there for us.

dxn dxn dxn said...

GOD BLESS U STEVE ..........!!!!!!!!!!

dxn dxn dxn said...

BRAVO STEVE ,,,,,,,GBU N ALL OF TOTO'S MEMBERS.......!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

LOVE you Luke!!

Jack Franklin