Lou Reed was speaking at a press conference at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity this weekend, his first public appearance since undergoing a liver transplant earlier this year.

“It’s this whole idea that starving artists stay starving artists,” he said of the miniscule payments musicians receive from Spotify. “Meanwhile you have Damien Hirst selling for a million dollars.”

On MP3s, he said:

I understand young people were brought up on downloading and Steve Jobs tried to make it into some kind of business which benefits Apple but you get about a sixteenth of a penny. You used to make a record but they reduced the size of it and put it in this plastic that breaks immediately, it’s like, what? You realise they are really fucking with you, so people didn’t want to pay for anything. . . But meanwhile the musician doesn’t get paid anything. Now making a record is kind of a promotional thing.

Reed also said he was “speechless” following the revelations of the NSA spying scandal. “One, how did someone that young have access to something that heavy? […] He released some of the heaviest secrets available,” he said, adding: “It’s very disturbing that a lot of things Bush would’ve done, Obama’s continued.”

Finally, asked by one reporter how he stays creative, he simply replied: “I masturbate every day.”

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