This BBC News interview with [Sir] Mick Jagger on the 40th anniversary of the Rolling Stones' Exile on Main Street contains a few really choice grafs about the myth that the internet has robbed artists of their livelihoods. He seems pretty chill about the perceived threats of downloading, and explains that for a long time, the record labels did a fine job of robbing artists:
BBC: What's your feeling on technology and music?
Jagger: Technology and music have been together since the beginning of recording. [The internet is] just one facet of the technology of music. Music has been aligned with technology for a long time. The model of records and record selling is a very complex subject and quite boring, to be honest.
BBC: But your view is valid because you have a huge catalogue, which is worth a lot of money, and you've been in the business a long time, so you have perspective.
Jagger: Well, it's all changed in the last couple of years. We've gone through a period where everyone downloaded everything for nothing and we've gone into a grey period it's much easier to pay for things – assuming you've got any money.
BBC: Are you quite relaxed about it?
Jagger: I am quite relaxed about it. But, you know, it is a massive change and it does alter the fact that people don't make as much money out of records.
But I have a take on that – people only made money out of records for a very, very small time. When The Rolling Stones started out, we didn't make any money out of records because record companies wouldn't pay you! They didn't pay anyone!
Then, there was a small period from 1970 to 1997, where people did get paid, and they got paid very handsomely and everyone made money. But now that period has gone.
So if you look at the history of recorded music from 1900 to now, there was a 25 year period where artists did very well, but the rest of the time they didn't.