Lucky Ali: I am probably the only artist who has not been paid royalties by a label
One conversation with singer-songwriter Lucky Ali, and you realise that the 61-year-old is completely detached from fame and money. “In a song, its music needs to be the personality. The expression needs to be the personality. Not the musician,” says Lucky as he explains the sense of detachment and why he has moved on from expecting “any sort” of royalties from record labels, which one would assume would be big, since he has been in the industry for over two decades and released many albums and, songs that have proven to be timeless melodies.
“I am probably the only artist who has not been paid their legitimate royalties by a legitimate music label. [But] they are still earning royalties and they don’t feel its important to share those royalties with the person who created that content. They go out of their way to prevent that, and it’s okay. They have to survive,” he says.
“Maybe back then it was a new thing and maybe things are in place now. But all that time has passed, for us. Now I don’t focus my energy on all these things. I don’t think much about it, because if you look at things from a way that the music is in public domain, and the public dabaoed it on the Internet, for free. And I got public’s love for that music. So it is karmic justice in a way,” he adds.
This sense of detachment is not just limited to receiving royalties. It is also evident in the way he releases his music. Before 2020, Lucky’s last non film single was nine years ago. And while he understands the fact that he takes “too much time with the music”, he feels it’s not up to him when a song releases. “Every song has a time. It will release when it has to. I have never arrived at a point where I have released music because I felt like there was a big gap in time or something like that,” he says.
The testament of that is his latest track, which is saw him collaborate with the Bengaluru based hip-hop outfit, Low Rhyders. Titled Sacrifice, the song took at least three years to be made, but, was conceptualised 10 years ago. “It was all organic. No one was focussing on it. It just kept happening organically. The initial conversation started within the group, and what they wanted to say. Then, I came in the picture. I felt that in their genre, there is no melody, so they had to get a melody, because I feel that without a melody a song doesn’t attract anyone. Words came really late, and it took a long time before it came to the version that one hears today,” says Lucky.
The conversation with Lucky, invariably goes towards the space of independent music, and he is quick to point out that independent music allows a musician’s “expressions” take centre stage. “Film music takes you on a nice journey. It doesn’t necessarily show you the reality. But with independent music, a musician has the chance to say that Listen I need to say something. These are my thoughts and my interpretations that I want to convey and I want to express that. And today, because of so many available platforms, they have that chance and people are able to see so many expressions,” he signs off.
Interact with the author on Twitter/@sammysamarth