Lou Reed: ‘MP3s reduce music to the lowest common denominator’

The singer spoke at his first public appearance after undergoing a recent liver transplant

Former Velvet Underground frontman Lou Reed spoke out against MP3s and music downloading at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity this week, stating that MP3s were reducing music “to the lowest common denominator”.

Making his first public appearance since his life-saving liver transplant in May, the singer went on to elaborate his point, stating: “MP3s for God’s sake. A really miserable sounding thing, people don’t understand what they are missing” before comparing the “horrifying” sound of MP3s to the “beautiful warm sound you get on vinyl”.

As well as his distaste at the quality of the recording format, the singer also went on to discuss the resultant financial fall-out for artists, reports Rolling Stone. “It’s pretty much what I get from downloads now. I’m back where I started,” Reed said, comparing his current earnings from downloads to the $2.60 he made playing in a bar at age 14. “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.”

Despite his recent surgery, however, the outspoken frontman has already expressed an interest in returning to the stage soon, stating recently that he considered himself “a triumph of modern medicine”. Posting on his Facebook page last month, Reed declared “I am a triumph of modern medicine, physics and chemistry. I am bigger and stronger than stronger than ever. My Chen Taiji and health regimen has served me well all of these years, thanks to Master Ren Guang-yi. I look forward to being on stage performing, and writing more songs to connect with your hearts and spirits and the universe well into the future.”