back to article Pete Townshend condemns Apple as 'digital vampire'

Pete Townshend, noted windmill guitarist and child pornography investigator, has called Apple's iTunes a "digital vampire", likened it to big-bucks bailout beneficiary Northern Rock, and admitted that yes, he did once want to cut Steve Jobs' balls off. Townsend managed that invective triptych while delivering the inaugural …


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  1. jake Silver badge

    Gawd/ess ...

    Somewhere, John's spinning. He was all about sharing music, anywhere & everywhere humanly possible. Pete's commentary suggests "mine is mine, but everyone else's is fair game" ... Hopefully ThePig will smack Townshend upside the lug 'ole next time she sees him ...

    1. Rob Crawford

      Somehow I think

      that Mr Peel quite liked the artists being paid for the work that they did.

      Not every artist has an abundance of money, there are many so called successful artists who have had their income reduced from very little to 20% of very little.

      Check out Roger McGuinn or Andy Partridge amongst others on the matter

      I'm happy to see the majority of the record execs lose money, but I do like to see the artists paid.

      It may not be why they start of producing music (for example) but recording artists and their families deserve to be rewarded with more than a pat on the back.

      Plus if you have ever paid for recording studio time et al then you would know why they need an income (and no a laptop, some line 6 kit & a £200 microphone doesn't really cut it)

      1. bobbles31

        Real artists could make money on a Washboard and a Paint Pot.

        1. Lallabalalla


          yes, but the end result would not be Dark Side Of The Moon or Blue, etc.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward


          Give us an example of a "real artist" who achieves/achieved that then

      2. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart

        Good music is good music however it was recorded

        "Plus if you have ever paid for recording studio time et al then you would know why they need an income (and no a laptop[1], some line 6 kit & a £200 microphone doesn't really cut it)"

        Well there's your problen should have used a Tascam or Fostex instead of Line 6 kit to create another Bruce Springsteen's 'Nebraska' ...... or maybe it's the quality of the the music that counts instead of the kit it's recorded on.

        [1] Get a PC with a decent A2D, USB is too slow.

      3. jake Silver badge

        @Rob Crawford

        John shared music. Pete plays music. John enjoyed sharing music. Pete apparently wants to be paid for music ... but unlike John, Pete seems to think he's entitled.

        "Plus if you have ever paid for recording studio time et al then you would know why they need an income (and no a laptop, some line 6 kit & a £200 microphone doesn't really cut it)"


        Please note that I'm not anti The WHO ... They were talking about my generation, and I saw 'em live in the late '70s & early '80s a couple dozen times, on both sides of the pond.

        Times change. The reality of copying images changes. Shall we move on?


    The mind boggles...

    You've really got to wonder where radio and MTV fits into Pete's view of things here.

    There are plenty of bands who's works I've enjoyed for free and quite legally too.

    This includes The Who oddly enough.

    ...talking 'bout my generation and whatnot.

    1. YP

      Radio and MTV pay to play the music they do, and that goes to the artists,

      Should you actually listen to (don't he's a bad public speaker), or read the transcript, he even covers that.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @ YP

        Yes they do pay to play, but if more than 0.001% actually ends up with the artists (unless they are a big name), I will be very, very supervised.

        1. perlcat
          Black Helicopters

          The way it works for small artists

          You join ASCAP or BMI. The radio stations may or may not ever play your songs -- but the way the ratings are calculated, if they did, you'll never know.

          At the end of the year, you'll get a letter to the effect of: "We worked very hard for you to ensure that you got your fair share. Your share of performance royalties is $30. Your membership dues are $100. You now owe us $70. Please remit."

          [sarc]However, they *do* have to pay for some very nice offices, so I suppose the gouging is entirely necessary. [/sarc]

          In the meantime, if some restaurant will be nice to you and play your music in hopes of selling your CD's, ASCAP or BMI lawyers will extort $700/month in royalties out of them. Of which you'll see the aforementioned -$70, even though EVERY SINGLE SONG PLAYED is yours.

          I agree with Mr. Townshend. Some balls need to be cut off -- however, he and I differ on the choice between a dead man and some overpriced lawyers who've stumbled on a scheme to make extortion legal. Until then, Non-ASCAP/BMI and damned proud of it. If they try to hassle my friends, we prosecute for theft.

  3. McBeese

    One Problem...

    "iTunes, he said, should support artists by giving them free computers, and help guide them through the rocky shoals of marketing, copyright, and distribution."

    The problem with this is that most 'artists' are not artists and produce terrible content. A free computer will not make them better.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A question for Pete:

    Where's the book?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    then again

    if you hadn't stuffed so much fairy dust up you hooter you might have even more money than you do now.

  6. Willy the Jackass

    Where do you live Pete? I'd like your son's bike a whole lot more than your music.

    1. Hatless Pemberty

      Would you?

      I wouldn't download a bike. Or shit in a policeman's helmet.

      1. MacGyver

        +1 for IT Crowd

        After going to the Louvre with my camera, I saved millions of dollars not "buying" all those priceless paintings, I can look at them whenever I like.

        Boo-hoo artists, to me it's simple; If you want to get paid, perform a show. I get up every day and go to work, to make money, and so can you. Don't like people downloading your music, don't record it in a loseless audio format and try to charge people $10-$20 dollars for it, only perform it live.

        I'm really sorry that your racket is almost over, you had a good run, now work everyday like the rest of us. People that are really "artists" will make music whether or not anyone ever hears it, and if they want to "share" it with people they will, and if they want to get paid for entertaining, then perform it live, or sell it for nickels. Would you rather make ten million nickels, or a thousand dollars?

        Only a few artists ever "get rich" from recorded music, but almost all the record executives do.

  7. 45RPM Silver badge

    Rampant self publicist talks bollocks

    Nobody care about Pete Townshend any more. I doubt that most of da yoof even know who he is. He's been an irrelevance since the sixties. So, had he not invoked the spectre of Apple, this speech would have been ignored. Let's not give him the oxygen he's seeking. He's just trolling.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Because you often see irrelevant acts headlining Glastonbury Pyramid stage on the last night of the festival.

    2. Armando 123

      "He's been an irrelevance since the sixties." That is utter crap! "Who's Next", one of the great rock albums of all times, came out in 1971.

      So there. Nyeh.

      1. JimmyPage Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Not just Whos' Next ...

        Quadraphenia is an outstanding slice through adolesence and has as much relevance (if not more) today - 40 years after it was conceived.

        Townshend can be a total twat - he freely admits it - but he also isn't afraid to use his brain.

  8. Ashton Black

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

    Yes, I'm sure that'd be nice for you. However, unlike food, with data copies can be made, with zero effort and isn't a consumable product. Want to try again?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


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

    You want people to pay every time they listen to your songs? You can fuck off mate, you were good, but not that damn good.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      And if you bought the complete "Live at Leeds" CD...'d know why so little of it appeared on vinyl first time around.

      Seminal according to wikipedia, as ever they are nearly right

  10. Silverburn
    Thumb Down

    Free computers?

    WTF? How will that help?

    Why not just give them the advise in the first place on "guiding them through the rocky shoals of marketing, copyright, and distribution"?

    Afterall, a PC is what - £300? And it's very likely they already have one?

    I'd stay off the charlie and try and keep up, Pete...mate.

  11. Willington

    Do you have any idea

    Where his son keeps his bike?

  12. Silverburn

    I can see it now...

    Somewhere, in Apple PR department:

    Drone 1: "Pete Townsend? Do we give a shit?"

    Drone 2: <looks up itunes sales for PT, and Bio info on Wikipedia> "No. Plus he slagged off the holy one"

    Drone 1: "Fair enough, f* him then - carry on as normal"

  13. alain williams Silver badge

    Stop stropping

    If he does not like iTunes then he can always remove his material from the catalogue. Will that improve his income ?

    If he does not like the 30% iTunes take he can try to negotiate a better deal and when they won't budge stop selling through iTunes.

    I assume that Mr Townshend also approves of Paul McCartney's efforts to help starving old rock stars by increasing the copyright term to 70 years -- thus hindering new artists from reusing some of the old material into something new and exciting -- better to allow those who already have than allow the new who have not a chance.

    If he is lacking in income maybe he ought to publish something new, that people will want to buy, rather than relying on regurgitating ancient stuff -- I would like to receive royalties for code that I wrote in my youth!

    I am no apple lover, but stopping like this is not the way.

    1. RichyS
      Thumb Down

      iTunes takes a lot less than 30% for music. IIRC it's substantially under 10%. The record companies take the lion's share (as per usual).

      Really Pete, it's the record companies that are the vampires. They do very little of value in this day and age. You should be thanking iTunes for being a relatively level playing field. And, although you can't directly self-publish to iTunes, there are a multitude of aggregators out there who will publish your song for a few $ per year.

      1. InsaneGeek

        takes a lot less than 30% for music???,news-2665.html

        "Currently iTunes charges 99-cents a song, with 61-cents of that going to the record industry, 9-cents of it going to the artists and the rest going to Apple."

        $0.29 / $.99 = 29.29% is what iTunes take or basically 30% of the take per song.

        Will it be different for Apples cloud offering and be as you say "a lot less than 30%"? Well lets take a look shall we?

        "Apple has agreed to pay each music label between $25 million to $50 million for their services. The music labels will then share the cost with Apple; 30% will go to Apple, 12% will go to the music publishers, and the remaining will be left to the labels to pay out their artists"

        Feel free to bring some factual data along with your posts...

        1. JEDIDIAH

          iTunes is just another vendor

          iTunes is just another vendor. They sell singles or albums and they sell them under the terms offered by the publisher. If the artists aren't seeing any windfall, then it is the middle men that are at fault at not iTunes. Apple is simply chasing the market.

          iTunes is no more or less vampiric than Virgin Megastore.

          The labels are the actual villain in this piece and always have been. If Apple has gained any power here, than the labels have given it to them.

  14. Pete Rowley

    may I suggest

    Reading the entire transcript rather than critiquing soundbites pulled out of context.

    1. graham_

      but but

      that would require reading.

      I prefer random quotes so I can "get paid for work done as a clock"

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      > rather than critiquing soundbites pulled out of context.

      I read the transcript. In context he comes off as an even bigger twat.

      Townshend's implication that John Peel was some arbiter of musical talent acting as gate keeper to make sure that the public only listened to high quality saleable material probably has the big man at 20,000 rpm in his coffin.....

      1. hamacy

        45 rpm shurely?


  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yeah Right Pete

    What about all that free publicity and revenue you've had over the years on the Beeb courtesy of the licence fee payer ?

    The only vampires I see are the music biz execs trying to bleed my wallet dry for their next Ferrari, dolly bird and 1km long lines of coke.

    "I was born with a plastic spoon in my mouth" (From Substitute by The Who)

    Not a Silver one !

  16. ian100

    Well is he a man of conviction, isn't he?

  17. TheProf

    Betting term

    "trifecta"? Do you mean "triptych" perchance?

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wrong target

    Quote: Pete Townshend [] has called Apple's iTunes a "digital vampire"

    If Apple is leeching off the artists, it isn't terribly effective. Apple's accounts indicate the sale of music is only showing a very minor profit, and most of the revenue is simply paying the labels and covering the overheads of running the store. It seems to me that the real profits are going into someone else's pocket, i.e. Pete hasn't tracked down the real vampire.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Apple take 30%, pass on the rest

      Apple take 30% of the sales. The 70% remainder gets passed up the chain. The "paying the labels" etc would come from the 70% surely?

      Whilst Apple may claim that the 30% take only just covers the running of the store, you have to realise that the existence of the store, with the music on it, helps sell the iPhone/iPod etc - which is where a greater profit lies. Also, it's not difficult to do perfectly legal creative accounting which allows you to 'hide' profit by assigning costs creatively (e.g. the iTunes store costs may also include their entire data centre costs, partly used for iTunes, but also associated with the back-end iPhone activation and monitoring - maybe even some other iPhone services - MobileMe/iCloud? - something they'd have had to pay for without the iTunes store selling music).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Four kinds of lies


        Damned Lies



      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        "you have to realise that the existence of the store, with the music on it, helps sell the iPhone/iPod etc - which is where a greater profit lies"

        Yes, but that profit does not belong to the musician, it belongs to Apple.

        However, even if Apple were "creaming" all of the 30% as pure profit, doesn't that mean Mr Townsend et al are getting 70% of something that wasn't being paid for at all before, in return for doing no extra work at all?

        I wish someone would take the work I did 30 years ago, sell it to a load of people and throw 70% of the profit my way....

  19. Maliciously Crafted Packet

    But iTunes is just a big record shop.

    Whilst it would be nice it's not strictly their job to nurture talent. Thats what record companies are supposed to do. Well at least they used to. They're the ones who would traditionally send out the ANR men. I guess that roll has now been taken over by Simon Cowell.

    And whilst on the subject of record shops, both iTunes and Amazon have a vast selections of obscure music which was never available from your local high street store. At least musicians now have a global outlet where they can sell their work. On iTunes you can even get Thy Gospel by Stian Westerhus for christ sakes.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Apologies in advance for the pedancy...

      It s " A *and* R, as in Artists *and* Repertoire written as 'A&R'. Other that that, I completely and utterly concur with what you have said!

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Am I missing something here? I thought iTunes was more like HMV than EMI or Bluurg, so I don't understand why Apple should be bringing on talent.

    As for freeloaders, I am sort of with him on that one. If people do not buy the music then the band cannot fund a tour. And I assume a record label isn't going to fund a tour if the record sells are poor.

    1. Lallabalalla

      Cannot fund a tour???

      You *must* be joking - ticket prices for PT types are in the £50 - £250 league - tours are where these people *make* money, not spend it. Not only are tours self-funding, they make the bands about $5mil a head. well, if you're a Townshend or a Jagger or a Van Morrison that is. Everyone else gets scale I bet.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    weird, why would itunes do any of that, isn't that the Labels job, and itunes licenses the music from the Labels.

  22. David Hearn

    I found the BBC article on this far more balanced and helpful (, some of Pete's comments are below

    Quote: "The word 'sharing' surely means giving away something you have earned, or made, or paid for?" he said.

    Quote: "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?" he asked.

    Quote: The guitarist also said that people who downloaded his music without paying for it "may as well come and steal my son's bike while they're at it".

    Quote: If someone "pretends that something I have created should be available to them free... I wonder what has gone wrong with human morality and social justice", he said.

    Quote: But he also told listeners: "It's tricky to argue for the innate value of copyright from a position of good fortune, as I do. I've done all right."

    Quote: And he added: "A creative person would prefer their music to be stolen and enjoyed than ignored. This is the dilemma for every creative soul: he or she would prefer to starve and be heard than to eat well and be ignored."

    He seems to realise that he's done okay from his music, and that he realises that people will question his stand considering he's done okay from it - but he does make a point. If you create something, then you should have the right to sell that if you want to (or offer it free, if you want to). "File sharing" costs artists money, with most people who do it, probably not actually paying for their original copy of the music, rather getting it from someone else and then sharing it on. And Apple/iTunes takes a large (30%) cut of the sales, without doing anything to help up-coming artists. He pointed out that John Peel did lots to introduce new artists to listeners.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @David Hearne

      I too read the BBC article first, but unlike you I don't see the actual quotes as being in Townsend's favour: actually the opposite. El Reg just makes him look like a bit of a tit, PT himself (through the BBC) makes himself look like a cunt. For example:

      Quote: "The word 'sharing' surely means giving away something you have earned, or made, or paid for?" he said.

      Actually "sharing" means giving away something you possess. "Sharing" as a concept is agnostic regarding how that possession came about. According to PT's definition I could not share something I was given as a present (a box of choccies, say) because I neither earned it, made it or paid for it.

      Quote: "Is there really any good reason why, just because iTunes exists <snip> it can't provide some aspect of these services to the artists <snip>

      Why should it? iTunes provides a service by making material available between producers and consumers and facilitating the transfer of digital goods one way and money the other way. PT would be better off targetting someone like Tescos who actively shit on farmers etc. causing hardship and poverty rather than iTunes that simply fails to make it easy to produce millionaire musicians.

      The rest of his quotes is just whiny bitching.

      1. John Lilburne

        Whiny bitch fanbois

        I thought the freetards said that distribution costs were free, so why should Apple be taking 30%?

        1. Geoff Campbell Silver badge


          Distributing one copy is so cheap as to be essentially free.

          Distributing billions of copies, from a service with good response times and good up-time, and collecting money for them, costs a lot.


    2. Geoff Campbell Silver badge

      It's a whole new world out there.

      I download copies of music. Normally MP3s from ThePirateBay.

      I then listen to it, once or occasionally twice, and if I like it, I buy the CD. If I don't like it I delete it.

      This has lead to me buying a good number of CDs I wouldn't ordinarily have considered, by bands I wouldn't ordinarily have tracked down.

      I may or may not be representative. I suspect this happens more than is generally given credit for. It's a complex ol' world.


  23. Chris 3

    Regarding Apple helping up and coming artists...

    Doesn't that rather sound as if Townsend wants them to set themselves up as a record label? Isn't that what record labels should be doing?

    Or am I missing something here?

  24. Absent

    People don't need to buy The Who any more, they're sick of hearing them every day for free on fecking CSI.

  25. Jonathan White

    "And Apple/iTunes takes a large (30%) cut of the sales"

    Considerably less than most record companies did and continue to do, generally for doing not a hell of a lot more than Apple do for the artists in question. Maybe he thinks complaining about record companies is a stuck record but it's not as if anything has changed in that regard.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Apple seem to behave like a budget record label, but make out like they're a record shop. A record shop won't get anything like 30% profit on a sale, but a label will make more than Apple do.

  26. Mark Allen

    Apple the record label

    So Pete wants Apple to become a record label? I thought there was already various court cases agreed with Apple Corps and the remaining Beatles that Apple would not do that.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    steal my son's bike

    Did anyone actually do this? I'm sure his son would MISS the bike. Perhaps then he'd understand the nuance.

    1. Lallabalalla

      Oh but he'd *really* miss the money

      It's the difference between a pair of Clarke's and a pair of Churches' after all. Poor him.


      The stupid bike analogy

      There are many ways that I can avoid paying Townsend for his "talent". Some of them are legal and some of them are not. They are largely equivalent in the end despite the differing moral and legal values place on them.

      With so much fixation on "freeloaders", you would think that the busybodies here would suffer sufficient confusion for their heads to explode if they really thought about what they were babbling.

      MTV. Movie Trading Company. Pandora. BT. It all looks the same on the balance sheet in the end.

  28. PyLETS

    Music is for sharing

    I used to share Who songs in the playground using my voice. There were no corporate lawyers spying on that activity then trying to stop me. When I learned to use a guitar and mike I used to share songs that way with less cringeworthy results. I wasn't paid for sharing music then either, and didn't have to pay for the privilege.

    I really don't mind artists getting a cut from commercial activity which surrounds copying - radio, public broadcast, creating ambience in a restaurant, and selling premium net connections etc based upon how many songs and films can be downloaded.

    But stay out of our private lives. Lawyers claiming to represent artists don't have a right to steam open our private mail if it contains a DVD or CD . By any reasonable standards they don't have a right to spy on Internet connections and how these are used for the same reasons. Privacy is a human right while copyright isn't. So go after the people making money off it by all means, but leave the rest of us alone.

    1. Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Music is for sharing

      That was a public live performance, and so covered by a whole mess of different regulations.

      1. PyLETS
        Big Brother

        @Tony Smith: "covered by a whole mess of different regulations"

        A whole mess indeed, and which would have been chucked out based upon human rights considerations had enforcement ever strayed out of the commercial sphere into the sphere most would consider to be private. Such considerations, for example, legitimised home taping of radio programs once this became widespread, because prosecution was not considered to be in the public interest. So if I play a song within copyright on my guitar to some friends for free, when does that become a "public performance" ? When we leave my living room and go to a nearby park ? Get real.

        The problem copyright extremists are creating here is that they are confusing the public and private spheres of interest, boundaries between which used to be a matter of common sense, with copyright historically staying well outside what everyone knows to be the private sphere of interest.

      2. Absent

        "a whole mess of different regulations" which the Lib Dems stated in their manifesto that they would sort out. Yet another political frap by Clegg..

      3. JimmyPage Silver badge


        the PRS saying that people who whistled copyright tunes in shops should pay ?

    2. amanfromearth


      that is all

  29. Grease Monkey Silver badge

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

    That really is cock of the highest order. Back in the sixties when the Who got big most people got most of their music through the radio. These days there are other sources providing the same service. You hear music that you might not otherwise hear and, your appitite whetted, you go out to find more by the same artist. In Pete's day you probably went down to the record shop and listened to stuff over headphones in those little booths, for free, and if you liked it you bought it. Of course these days you might visit iTunes and listen to 30 seconds of a track before buying it. The principal is, however, pretty much the same.

    Getting music for free from the radio or it's equivalent is what advertises artists. Without getting those helpings for free new artists would find it very hard to break into the market. Hard though it is to believe Pete was a new musician once and needed all the help he could get to get his music heard by the great unwashed.

    Pete, you old dinosaur, if people had to pay for every helping the music industry would collapse in no time.

    1. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart

      "Getting music for free from the radio or it's equivalent is what advertises artists"

      eh.. no. Artists receive a royalty payment when a song is play on the radio as it is considered a performance.

      1. JEDIDIAH

        I have a bridge for you...

        >> "Getting music for free from the radio or it's equivalent is what advertises artists"


        > eh.. no. Artists receive a royalty payment when a song is play on the radio as it is considered a performance.

        If you really think this actually happens, I have a bridge to sell you across the pond.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward


          Of course it happens, it's one of the main reasons that the PRS exist.

          Also, if you think that London Bridge was sold to someone who thought it was Tower Bridge, you're sadly mistaken. The person who bought it knew full well what he was getting. Still, that does show you up as the sort of person who believes anything they're told when they want to believe it. Funnily that's also what you've done believing that artists don't get royalties from radio performances.

          1. JEDIDIAH

            It's the Brooklyn Bridge...

            > Of course it happens, it's one of the main reasons that the PRS exist.

            PRS exists so that PRS gets paid.

            Whether or not anyone besides the middleman actually gets anything is another matter entirely.

            "Distrust and be sure to verify,"

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward


              Distrust and verify? It seems to me from your postings that you just distrust and never bother to verify, because it gets in the way of your personal prejudices.

              1. Grease Monkey Silver badge

                Whether or not the artists get paid a royalty for radio play is irrelevant to my post, and indeed Townshend's comments. The fact is that the music played on radio is free at the point of delivery - that is to say that the consumer gets their "helping" of music for free.

  30. Grease Monkey Silver badge

    I think Townshend's model is a little skewed. He compares iTunes with the old record labels and publishers, but he's wrong. iTunes is comparable to the record shops of old. The services he talks about being provided to musicians of old were provided by publishers, labels and managers. Most signed bands still have all three.

    1. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart

      No again,

      "iTunes is comparable to the record shops of old"

      Eh, No. If you bought a record (or a CD) you paid for the whole record and thereby helped the record company/artist recoup the cost of producing the entire record/CD. In iTunes you can selectively purchase individual tracks, just check on the number of tracks in iTunes that have never been downloaded.

      Do you really want to buy all the tracks on "Frampton Comes Alive!" just to hear "Show Me the Way"?

      1. JEDIDIAH

        Clueless children...

        >> "iTunes is comparable to the record shops of old"


        > Eh, No. If you bought a record (or a CD) you paid for the whole record and

        You remind me of all of those surveys they like to take of incoming college freshmen and then whine about in the news media. There is NOTHING new about the whole "just pay for the hits" model of iTunes. This was the normal way the industry did business since the beginning. Only during a very brief period during the rise of the CD did this ever change.

        Then it came back with a vengance.

        Singles are nothing new. They are something that should be VERY familiar to the likes of Townsend.

        Singles always existed side by side with Albums.

        1. Grease Monkey Silver badge

          "Singles always existed side by side with Albums."

          The single is older than the album.

          First came the single. Then came the album as a compilation of singles, yes the first albums were effectively a book of singles. Only when the LP became available did the album as we now know it come about.

          Artists are definitely selling more of their old stuff as a result of digital sales if only because I doubt anybody would every buy a Peter Frampton album, but they might just buy a single track. Maybe. Perhaps.

  31. Grease Monkey Silver badge

    Dinosaurs like Townshend need to realise that iTunes and other sources of digital music are their financial saviours. Wind back to the nineties. If you wanted some old album from the sixties you'd be hard pushed to find it in your record store. Even the really big bands like the Stones, the Beatles and even the Who didn't have their full back catalog available in record (sorry CD) shops.

    Thanks to iTunes people can buy old recordings whenever they want, no matter how obscure. As such old dinosaurs are making more money than they would if we went back to the old model.

    Personally I think that copyright and royalties ought to work like patents. A thirty year limit seems more than fair to me.

    1. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart


      "iTunes and other sources of digital music are their financial saviours"

      eh No... iTunes and other sources of digital music are retailers who trade on the sucess of the artist and the investement that the copyright mafiaa have made in the artist.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @ Field Marshal Von Krakenfart

        eh No... iTunes and other sources of digital music are retailers who trade on the success of the artist and the investment that the copyright mafiaa didn't make in the artist.

        There, put it right for you.

      2. Grease Monkey Silver badge

        "iTunes and other sources of digital music are retailers who trade on the sucess of the artist and the investement that the copyright mafiaa have made in the artist."

        Word it how you will, but that doesn't differ from the record shops in Townshend's historical utopian vision.

        The point is that iTunes and the rest sell virtually all the albums that any artist on their has ever produced. Most old fashioned record shops were unlikely to stock albums more than ten years old except those by a select few artists.

  32. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart
    Thumb Down

    Fixed it for you Pete...

    "It would be better if the music industry stopped treating music like food," i.e stop turning it into shit.

    Townshend makes some good valid points, the Cupertinian approach to music is a slash and burn approach, they sell some music, grab what they can, move on to new green fields and leave a wasteland behind them, but that’s standard practice for the Slymon Cowell version of the music industry.

    Even Bono has said there may never be another U2 because the copyright mafiaa will not make the sort of investment in a band, why invest in a project that is going to payback over 20+ years when you can take an X-factor “winner” who was never a giging musician, hype the shit out of them, make a massive profit out of them for a year and then psudo-drop them i.e. continue to hold their contact but don’t promote them

    The so-called x-factor winners, get a recording contract work 1million GBP, in effect what they get is a bill for 1million GBP, recoverable from their share of the record sales.

    Townshend has a valid point, the suppliers of the music industry should be encouraging and nurturing new talent for long careers and sustained income, and stop treating them as a once off cash crop.

    And then he goes and ruins it by saying something stupid (do you see what I’ve done there?) by saying that we should pay each time we listen to some music!!!!!!!!! Get a grip dickhead, I’ve paid for the CD* I’ll play it as often as I want on whatever media I have. If Townshend wants to be paid each time I want to listen to the Who he better be prepared to come and gig in my house….

    1. Chris 3


      "The Cupertinian approach to music is a slash and burn approach, they sell some music, grab what they can, move on to new green fields and leave a wasteland behind them"

      Sorry, but in what way exactly?

      The Cupertino approach to music is surely to provide a simple, legal way for people to fill up their iDevices with music. The built a very nice music store, originally slapped on some DRM to keep the music industry happy, but with loose enough restrictions to keep the average punter happy, and charged the reasonablish sum of 30% that covered the storage, distribution and most importantly billing.

      What's been burned/? Who has been slashed? Where are signs that Apple is moving on, and that they have created a wasteland?

  33. John A Blackley


    How much money have you, personally, made from iTunes downloads Pete?

  34. J.G.Harston Silver badge

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

    So, every time I put my The Who CD into my CD player I would also have to swipe my debit card through it as well?

  35. Markl2011

    Purely in the interests of research...

    Maybe the people who download music illegally are doing it for "research", eh Pete?

  36. stu 4

    music vs apps : same thing shirley ???

    I struggle to see the difference. If anything the 'app store' has brought out the ridiculous way that music is funded and sold.

    If as a talented software artiste (cough.. I'm not.. but IF) I create a masterpiece I don't 'sign up' with EA anymore - I flog it on an app store. If its good it sells, it gets reviews, it gets rated, it sells more.

    Why the hell do musicians think they are somehow above the commercial supply and demand system that , for the rest of us, seems to work pretty well ?

    Oh we need to EAs of the world sure - Battefield 3 took years to develop with 100s of people... a song doesn't. sorry to rain on the artiste's parade, but the successful ones have had their mental funding system for too long.

    The bad ones ? Well they'll still struggle to earn a living. As they should. If I was a crap programmer I wouldn't expect to be subsidised either.

    What do 'labels' do these days ? Fuck all. You'd be mental to sign with one unless they offer similar terms to an app store (say +5% for marketing).

  37. Sadako

    Music industry

    What people are forgetting here is an increasing number of people selling music on iTunes are independant artists, so the musician gets 70% of the cut and Apple gets 30%. There is no record company taking the lion's share in these cases.

    Small artists are using things like iTunes and Amazon because at the moment their only alternative, is a large record company who will give them the crappest contract known to humanity, aka a "360 deal", which means they will loan the musician 20k or so to make a record and promote it. They will then take 95% of all sales, touring and merch profit (hense 360 as they take a cut from everything) and expect the musician to pay back the 20k from the 5% they get. They have to sell hundreds of thousands of records to break even and many small artists make a significant loss on their record sales. This is assuming that they even get a deal in the first place because, unlike in the past, large record companies are refusing to take chances on anything.

    As for promotion, MTV no longer play music videos hense why they got moved from Music to Entertainment on Sky. Radio stations only play approved "safe" music because they are all owned by either Clear channel in the states or Capital group here so small artists aren't getting their break on radio. Independant record shops are rapidly ceasing to exist as DJs are all using MP3s and Ableton/VDJ/Mixxx/etc now so you can't get them to stock your promos. Places like iTunes, Amazon and the internet in general are pretty much becoming the only place left for small artists to get well known. In this respect iTunes are probably doing more to help the music industry than anything and this is coming from someone that generally doesn't buy Apple's products.

  38. BinaryFu

    I stole his son's bike...

    But since I made a copy of it, he'll never know nor be without it nor feel any loss from it.

    But I have a nifty bike I would have never bought in the first place and tell all my friends about what an awesome brand it is...and eventually I might just go out and buy myself one just to have one that's been professionally built instead of being a copy of the original.


  39. The Equestrian


    You ask "How DOES that blind deaf mute kid play pinball?"

    Because he wasn't any of the three, he was in a ?funk? caused by his wicked uncle Ernie - the famous kiddie fiddler...

    Do try to keep up.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Artist gets 9% Apple gets 30%

    Is there really a justification for that?

  41. williemaykit

    Sounds like he wants Apple to act as a record label? The activities Pete is suggesting are admirable but they are what record labels do as they have the most to gain from artists. Apple is a retailer of music as is Amazon and HMV.

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "I once suggested that people who download my music without paying for it may as well come and steal my son's bike while they're at it,"

    What size frame? And whats the address?

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    treat music like food

    and his last album a plate of warmed up leftovers, I see.

    actually, I don't use itunes but it is a retailer not a record label, except a retailer where you can bring your own self-produced work in and sell it, where a proportion of what's available is free.

    But of course Townshend is right - home taping is killing music; of course he should still be earning money on work he did 50 years ago (though as food, well past its' sell-by date)

    The traditional music industry is notorious for its inability to recognise talent and to try and force their industrially groomed pets upon the market.

    The internet opened up a new frontier for individuals to get their music across to a public without the need for record labels. That's the real concern for people like Townshend.

    Sheet music publishers lamented the death that was being meted out to the music industry of their day by the availability of recordings - some of those people can't even read music! - yet here we all are.

    Hope I die before I get....wait, what?

  44. Winkypop Silver badge

    What sort of bike?

    Asking for a friend of course.

  45. Maxson

    Dear me




    Oh Pete, you tosser.

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