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Pete Townshend brands iTunes a 'digital vampire'

October 31, 2011

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LONDON—The Who's Pete Townshend on Monday branded Apple Inc.'s iTunes a "digital vampire" that profits from music without supporting the artists who create it.

Townshend said that faced with the Internet's demolition of established copyright protections, iTunes should offer some of the services to artists that record labels and music publishers used to provide. These include employing talents scouts, giving space to allow bands to stream their music and paying smaller artists directly rather than through a third party aggregator.

The guitarist was delivering the first John Peel Lecture, named in honor of the influential British radio broadcaster who died in 2004.

Townshend asked if there was any reason iTunes "can't provide some aspect of these services to the artists whose work it bleeds like a digital vampire" to make money.

ITunes declined to respond to Townshend's comments.

Apple's service is the market leader among legal download services, accounting for about three-quarters of music downloads.

Townshend said consumers, as well as the industry, needed to change their attitude to digital music.

"It would be better if music lovers treated music like food, and paid for every helping, rather than only when it suited them," he said.

"Why can't music lovers just pay for music rather than steal it?" he said.