In an interview earlier this year, former Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist John Frusciante insinuated that he no longer planned to release music commercially. “For the last year and a half I made the decision to stop making music for anybody and with no intention of releasing it,” he explained, adding, “At this point, I have no audience. I make tracks and I don’t finish them or send them to anybody, and consequently I get to live with the music.”
“Obviously I have a public audience,” Frusciante writes. “I am aware of them, and they know who they are, When I said ‘At this point, I have no audience’, I meant ‘audience’ in the figurative sense of people who I have in mind when I am creating, who I intend to send my music to or play it for.”
“Reduced to a single sentence, it would have been accurate to say that, at this point, I have no particular audience in mind while I am making music. Thinking this way gives me a certain freedom and stimulates growth and change. It is a state of mind that has been extremely useful to me from time to time throughout these last 27 years of being a professional musician.
I am grateful that I still have an audience, considering that I do not make music preconcieved to conform to ‘what people want’. I don’t think people know what they want, except that the general public thinks that artists should sound as their audience expects them to. The general public did not ‘want’ Jimi Hendrix’s music before 1967. They did not know that such sounds were possible. How could they have wanted it before they heard it? Did the public ‘want’ Sgt. Pepper before it came out? That would have been impossible, because no album had ever sounded remotely like that. Yet musicians who aim at becoming or remaining popular have gotten into this stupid habit of attempting to give the public ‘what it wants’. I made a good living doing this for years, and in 2008 decided that I would never cater to people who believe its a musicians job to give audiences ‘what they want’, ever again. I have excellent relations with the two independent labels who release my music, and like me, they are not aimed at the masses.”
Among the material posted to SoundCloud and Bandcamp: Frusciante’s interpretation of “Fight For Love” from the movie Casa De Mi Padre, recorded in November 2013 with Omar Rodriguez-Lopez; a collection of six songs recorded on four-track cassette in 2010; and a 20-minute version of an all-sample piece called “Sect In Sgt”.
Explaining why he’s releasing all the music for free, Frusciante writes:
“When someone releases music on a label, they are selling it, not giving it. Art is a matter of giving. If I sing my friend a song, it goes from me to her, at no cost. That’s giving. If I sell you an object, we do not say that I gave you that object. Recording artists have been ‘giving’ the public music by selling it to them for so long that we now think of sell-outs as dedicated musicians who love their audience so much that they aggressively sell them products, and sell themselves as an image and personality to this audience on a regular basis just as aggresively. Sell-outs is an antiquated term which, when I was a kid, referred to artists who love making money more than they love making music. The word indicated a lack of artistic integrity. Sell-outs suck, in my opinion. Its a shame its become so normal, expected, and acceptable to be one. When I was a teenager it was very common for people who loved music to insult a recording artist for being, or becoming, a sell-out. I believe that this was a very healthy instinct on the part of music lovers.
Giving people music for free online being so common these days is a good reminder that artistic expression is always a matter of giving, not taking, or selling. Selling is the making money part, and artistic expression, creation, is the giving part. They are distinct from one another, and it is my conviction that music should always be made because one loves music, regardless of whether one plans on selling it or not. Creation is the source of life, while making money is what people do for food, clothing, shelter, necessities, and comfort in some cases, and to exercise their greed in others.”
Listen to “Fight For Love” and the collection of four-track guitar music below. Frusciante says more music will be posted to both accounts in the near future.