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Pete Townshend to Apple: be less ‘digital vampire,’ more music teacher

Posted 03 November 2011 18:58 CET by Justin_Massoud

Legendary musician Pete Townshend leveled some harsh criticism at Apple over its successful iTunes store this week, his dignified accent cushioning the blows.

“It’s a fantastic piece of software, I use it all the time,” said Townshend at a special BBC music event, getting the pleasantries out of the way first.

Contrasting iTunes with radio, the artist explained that the digital music download service is cash flow-driven but lacks more traditional revenue streams such as advertising and subscriptions. Townshend proposed that Apple should become more hands-on with the musicians who use its online shop instead of just sitting back and collecting an “enormous” 30 percent commission.

“There’s [no] good reason why just because iTunes exists in the wild west land of Facebook and Twitter it can’t provide some of the aspects of [editorial guidance] services to the artists whose work it bleeds like a digital vampire, like a digital Northern Rock for its enormous commission,” said Townshend.

Townshend advised Apple to hire 20 A&R people from the “dying record business” who could essentially listen to and critique new artists, grooming them for future success.

“Have them respond to tracks sent in from new artists,” said Townshend. “If they feel the artists are bad, or aren’t bad, or not ready just say so. But have them tell the truth kindly and constructively. Don’t just send them to the wolves of Blogland.”

According to BBC News, The Who guitarist called piracy “a dilemma” for all artists. “[Creative people] would prefer to starve and be heard than to eat well and be ignored,” he said.

Townshend ultimately frowned on the act, but admitted it’s easy for him to do so. “[Pirates] may as well come and steal my son’s bike while they’re at it,” he quipped, adding that “it’s tricky to argue for the innate value of copyright from a position of good fortune, as I do.”

Apple should also provide 500 free computers with music software each year to artists who stand out in the crowd, said Townshend. “Follow the work of these 500 artists very carefully and help where you can, and keep out of the way if necessary,” he advised. (via TechDirt)

What do you think of Townshend’s ideas? Let us know in the comment section.

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