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Guest Editorial – Steve Lukather – Is Spotify Kryptonite for Indie Artists?

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….

Editor’s Note:

As you are all aware, Soul-Patrol has always been and will always be a major supporter of “indie artists.” That statement isn’t quite as noble as it sounds, since 99% of all artists in 2023 ate indie artists. Very few artists these days are what I like to refer to as “Record Label Employees.” I’m so glad that an Indie Artist, as high up on the food chain as Steve Lukather (best known as the sole continuous founding member of the rock band Toto) has written this analysis. He is expressing a view that I hear every day from far less well known indie artists. Most see a bleak future for themselves and real questions on how they themselves will be able to continue in this environment.

I don’t presume to have any answers. However, I am happy to see that some are pushing back against the system. I’m glad to see many keeping their music off of Spotify, streaming from other sources (ex: YouTube, Bandcamp, etc,) selling mp3 downloads direct from their websites (ex: Cynthia Jones,) promoting their own concerts/tours outside of the AEG/iHeart media juggernaut (Ex: Wooten Bros, Neftali Santiago, etc.) Soul-Patrol will of course continue to support these efforts of “indie artists,” to be able to continue to be “indie artists.” We think that YOU should as well!

–Bob Davis

Steve Lukather Writes

“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…Gone. 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)

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