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Pete Townshend delivers inaugural John Peel Lecture

By | Published on Tuesday 1 November 2011

Pete Townshend

The Who’s Pete Townshend delivered the first ever John Peel Lecture at this year’s Radio Festival in Salford yesterday, and in it likened iTunes to a “digital vampire”. He then suggested ways in which Apple’s albeit “fantastic piece of [music] software” could use some of its “enormous commission” to invest in and nurture emerging musicians, essentially replacing some aspects of “the dying record business”.

Among his suggestions, Townshend posited that Apple could give free computers to the 500 new artists it most valued, and offer them assistance with marketing and distribution. He also proposed an Apple streaming service where artists could choose to allow consumers to sample their music “like a radio station”.

Townshend continued: “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 aspect of these services to the artists whose work it bleeds like a digital vampire, like a digital Northern Rock, for its enormous commission?”

On the subject of the lecture’s namesake, Townshend admitted that he and John Peel had not been “close friends” and that Peel wasn’t an “unconditional Who fan”, adding: “John Peel played some records that were so bad that I thought he was taking the piss sometimes. Sometimes he played some records that no-one else would ever have played, and that would never be played on radio again”.

“But he listened”, he continued. “And he played a selection of records in the course of each week that his listeners knew – partly because the selection was sometimes so insane – proved he was genuinely engaged in his work as an almost unconditional conduit between creative musicians like me to the radio audience.”

You can listen to Pete Townshend’s John Peel Lecture in full here until 7 Nov.

Click here for the CMU Editor’s take on this story