The former Stooges frontman and successful solo artist also criticised Irish band U2 and technology giant Apple for their recent partnership when they gave away the group’s latest album for free.
He said they had stolen the listener’s choice in whether to download and buy the music or not.
“Part of the process when you buy something from an artist... It’s a kind of anointing, you are giving people love,” the 67-year-old told the audience in Salford at the annual lecture in honour of the late BBC broadcaster John Peel.
“It’s your choice to give or withhold. You are giving a lot of yourself, besides the money. But in this particular case, without the convention, maybe some people felt like they were robbed of that chance and they have a point.”
Pop, who is often seen as one of the pioneers of punk, said the development of new digital devices has seen people become estranged from their morals, allowing them to “steal” music.
But despite his criticism of the workings of the industry during his speech on the subject of “free music in a capitalist society”, Pop said he empathised with people struggling in a time of financial hardship.
“I think people are just a little bit bored, and more than a little bit broke. No money. Especially simple working people who have been totally left out, screwed and abandoned. If I had to depend on what I actually get from sales I’d be tending bars between sets.”
Pop follows figures such as Pete Townshend, Billy Bragg and Charlotte Church in delivering the BBC Music John Peel Lecture. This year marks a decade since the death of Radio 1 DJ and music champion Peel.
The Passenger and Lust for Life singer, whose raw performances are seen as a major inspiration to the punk movement of the mid 1970s, also paid tribute to Sir Richard Branson who he described as a “good guy” after signing him to his Virgin Records music label.
Pop, who is famed for performing shirtless, is a presenter of a weekly two-hour show on the BBC’s digital service 6 Music. The lecture was broadcast live on the digital channel and will be screened by BBC4 on Sunday.