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Pete Townshend of The Who calls Apple's iTunes a "digital vampire"


Just in time for Halloween, artist Pete Townshend of The Who has branded Apple's music business a "digital vampire," suggesting that iTunes profits from music without giving popular artists all the benefits they enjoyed under the record labels and music publishers.

In a report by the Associated Press, Townshend decried "the Internet's demolition of established copyright protections" and said Apple should replace the services formerly offered to musicians by the music business before it largely collapsed.

His demands included "employing talents scouts, giving space to allow bands to stream their music and paying smaller artists directly rather than through a third party aggregator," although the resources to pay for talent scouts has always been handled by labels; iTunes doesn't act as a label for the music it sells any more than other retailers such as Walmart or Best Buy or record stores act as labels.

Additionally, Apple "works with" any individual artist or group that sets up their own label as a music publisher, and does not require that artists sell their music through a "third party aggregator," unless that artist is already exclusively represented by a label and isn't free to sell their own work.

Townshend made his comments during the inaugural John Peel Lecture, adding that Apple's iTunes market "bleeds [artists] like a digital vampire."

At the same time, Townshend also blamed customers for not paying more, saying, "It would be better if music lovers treated music like food, and paid for every helping, rather than only when it suited them," adding, "why can't music lovers just pay for music rather than steal it?"

Over the past decade, Townshend has matured from rockstar to businessman, extensively licensing classic songs from the 1960s and 70s as advertisements, ranging from selling headlights with "I Can See For Miles" to selling Pepsi with "My Generation."

Townshend has released 11 albums with "The Who," and another 12 as a solo artist, and is worth an estimated $75 million.