More than 15 years after helping lead the charge against illegal file-sharing, Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich has made his peace with digital music.

Ulrich weighed in on the subject during a recent chat with the BBC program The Inquiry, offering his thoughts regarding whether streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music are good for artists. It's a thorny debate that's inspired a growing number of critical looks at the way the music industry is run, but Ulrich sees streaming as a net positive for professional musicians even if the payouts are smaller.

"I believe streaming is good for music," he argued. "People sit there and go, ‘I’m not getting paid very much for streaming,’ but streaming is a choice on all fronts. It’s a choice for the fan to be part of … it’s a choice for the artists who are involved in making their music available on streaming services. It’s a choice by the record companies that represent the artist."

It isn't lost on Ulrich that he's in the small — and seemingly dwindling — minority of artists who can afford to be patient with streaming's reduced royalty rates. "Streaming probably does benefit artists with higher profiles, yes," he admitted. "A lot of these playlists that are being made available for people in the streaming service, they seem to feature higher-profile artists and that just seems to be the way it’s sort of playing out right now."

And if older artists are the ones who benefit the most, maybe there's a musical lesson that younger artists could stand to learn from their richer forebears. "There’s less great new music to connect with," he suggested. "I mean, a lot of the stuff that’s been played is just regurgitated, this year’s flavor, this thing, but it’s not people on the leading edge like the Beatles or the Miles Davises or the Jimi Hendrixes taking us all by the hand into these completely unknown, unchartered musical territories."

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