Pete Townshend slams iTunes for bleeding artists dry – and calls on firm to start giving back to music industry

Pete Townshend

Give it back: Pete Townshend

Who guitarist Pete Townshend says Apple is behaving like a “digital vampire” by “bleeding” musicians and giving nothing back to the music industry.

And he’s called on the firm to start giving back instead of simply taking revenue out of the business.

He used his platform at BBC6 Music’s inaugural John Peel Lecture to query the morality of the iTunes business model, which is responsible for more than three quarters of all digital music sales.

Townshend said Apple should provide “creative nurture” to developing artists in the way record labels and music publishers did in the past.

He went on: “Is there really any good reason why, just because iTunes exists in the Wild West internet land of Facebook and Twitter, it can’t provide some aspects of these services to the artists whose work it bleeds like a digital vampire for its enormous commission?”

Referring to the problem of copyright theft and filesharing Townshend said: “If someone pretends that something I have created should be available to them free, I wonder what has gone wrong with human morality and social justice.”

But he accepted the clash of art and business makes it difficult for musicians, particularly those who have achieved financial success, to state a solid case.

“It’s tricky to argue for the innate value of copyright from a position of good fortune, as I do – I’ve done alright.

“A creative person would prefer their music to be stolen and enjoyed than ignored. This is the dilemma for eveyr creative soul: he or she would prefer to starve and be heard than to eat well and be ignored.”

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