Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker Thinks Music Should Be Free, Makes His Money From Commercials Anyway

To call Kevin Parker — the man behind the curtain of Tame Impala’s sweeping, psychedelic music — “unconventional” is an understatement. Simply read excerpts from his extensive Under The Radar interview to get a sense of his wonderful idiosyncrasies. Or, consider that when a fan asked him to share a new song during his Reddit AMA last night, he went ahead and did it.

But what might be most intriguing at the moment are his views on music and its perceived value. During the same Reddit AMA, when a fan asked Parker about people streaming his music for free, Parker admitted to copping burned CDs with horrible-quality, illegally downloaded MP3s on them, and he said that prior to having his music in commercials, he’d made exactly zero dollars off Tame Impala recordings:

Eh…. I feel like music will be free sooner or later, and I think I’m all for it. There’s all this talk of music needing a monetary value, this ownership of music, even that it needs a physical form. But intrinsically… it’s MUSIC, it should be better than that. Some of my most important musical experiences were from a burnt CD with songs my friend downloaded for me at a terrible digital quality… I didn’t care… it changed my life all the same. For me the value of music is the value you extract from it. You want to know a story? Up until recently, from all of Tame Impala’s record sales outside of Australia I had received…. zero dollars. Someone high up spent the money before it got to me. I may never get that money. Then Blackberry and some tequila brand or something put my song in an ad. Then I bought a house and set up a studio. I know what you’re thinking… “Wait so…when I bought an album I was helping some businessman pay for his mansion on an island somewhere, and when some dude bought a mobile phone he was helping to pay an artist? WHHHYY?” I’ll tell you why, IT’S MONEY. It doesn’t always go where you want it to go. It’s like a shopping trolley with a bung wheel. As far as I’m concerned the best thing you can do for an artist is LISTEN to the music…fall in love with it…….talk about it………get it however you can get it….Let the corporations pay for. This is just my brain rambling remember, I’m sure there are holes in my theories… for example I realize not everyone’s music is suited to a mobile phone ad, and it would be lame if artists tailored their music for that purpose.

That’s not too far off from Jim James’ answer when asked a similar question regarding his album leak in another Reddit AMA.