The Who's Townshend Dubs iTunes a 'Digital Vampire'

By Erin Harrison November 01, 2011

iTunes just wants to suck artists’ “blood.” That’s according to The Who’s Pete Townshend.

Speaking at the Radio Festival on Apple’s iTunes and music piracy this week, Townshend called Apple’s iTunes a “digital vampire,” saying the tech giant profits from artists’ music but doesn’t do anything to support the people creating it.

“Today, if we look solely at iTunes, we see a publishing model that offers only the last two items as a guarantee, distribution and banking, with some marketing thrown in sometimes at the whim of the folks at Apple,” Townshend said, delivering the first John Peel Lecture, named in honor of the influential British radio broadcaster who died in 2004. “It’s a fantastic piece of software, I use it all the time and I was honored once to meet the woman who wrote the software. But iTunes is not like radio.”

Townshend said that iTunes should offer services to artists that record labels and music publishers offer, The Associated Press reported, such as “employing talents scouts, giving space to allow bands to stream their music and paying smaller artists directly rather than through a third party aggregator as ways iTunes could lend their support.”

“Now 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 Northern Rock for its enormous commission?” Townshend asked.

According to figures released late last year, iTunes has 66.2 percent of the digital market. The next closest provider is Amazon, which has 13.3 percent of the digital market, TechZone360 reported.

There are days that Apple’s iTunes gets almost 90 percent of the digital market, Digital Trends reported, leaving Amazon at a distant 6-10 percent.


Erin Harrison is Executive Editor, Strategic Initiatives, for TMC, where she oversees the company's strategic editorial initiatives, including the launch of several new print and online initiatives. She plays an active role in the print publications and TechZone360, covering IP communications, information technology and other related topics. To read more of Erin's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Rich Steeves

Executive Editor, Strategic Initiatives

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