Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker Discusses Whether Music Should Be Free

This morning, Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker stopped by BBC Radio 6 to talk to Mary Anne Hobbs about whether or not music should be free. Basically, he thinks that music is meaningful with or without a price tag attached to it:

There are some CDs that I saved up for for months when I was doing a paper round when I was a kid. I’d literally spend two months saving up for a CD, and obviously when I got the CD it was the most amazing thing ever. But then later on in life, my friend had burned me a CD they’d downloaded illegally, and it was just as much of a powerful experience. I fell in love with the album, even though the sound quality was kind of crappy. So for me, it just shows that it’s not really about how much you pay for it or even whether or not it’s physical — it can still have the same effect on you. I’m not really sure what that says about artists making money in the future. Like, obviously artists need to make money and stuff like that, but I believe that if you do something good, if you make good art or make good stuff, the wealth will find you in some way. Not to be kind of overly spiritual about it, but it’s not the kind of thing that’s worth complaining about. If music was free, I think it changes the experience, but it doesn’t necessarily cheapen it, doesn’t make it any less profound.

And this is what he has to say about people downloading music illegally:

I don’t blame them. I used to download music illegally. Everyone has. No one is innocent. Everyone has done that. If someone says, ‘Hey man, I love your album, it really got me through a breakup, but I downloaded it for free,’ I’ll be like, ‘Good! That’s good!’ Maybe he didn’t have the money for the album, but if he still listened to it and it meant something to him and it was an important part of his life, then that’s all I can ever hope for and ask for. I don’t want his twenty bucks. There are other ways to get money in music. Like an ad for a car or a phone company ors omething. Good money. If people are willing to not rag out on artists for using their music in ads and movies and stuff, then I’m cool with them getting it for free. Because then it just means that the corporations are paying for it. And they’re the ones with the money.

His overall conclusion: “I guess I’m not saying that music should be free. But if people can do it for free, then there’s nothing anyone can do to stop them. It’s kind of a waste of energy to try and force them to pay for it if they don’t have to.”

Listen to the full segment below, and check out the rest of the interview here at the 2:07:30 mark.