Pete Townshend: the internet is killing music | New music reviews, news & interviews
Pete Townshend: the internet is killing music
The Who's main man bemoans the death of 'John Peelism' at the hands of iTunes
Earlier this week Pete Townshend asked whether “John Peelism”, the ethos of supporting and celebrating small, independent artists at a grass-roots level, could survive the internet. His implied answer was clearly "no". Townshend levelled the accusation that Apple, the owner of iTunes, is “a digital vampire Northern Rock” which doesn’t support or invest in the musicians whose work they sell, particularly the more independently minded ones, but rather sucks them dry before moving on. Claiming that “iTunes exists in the Wild West internet land of Facebook and Twitter”, he went on to suggest that this Dodge City of MP3 enterprise is a top-heavy cartel that doesn’t contribute anywhere near enough to support the smaller artists who prop it up.
The wider inference of all this belly-aching is rather stark. Digitalisation has transformed music and the means by which we consume it in the past decade, yet Townshend believes there is very little about the switch that could be said to actually benefit either the music or the artist. He may have a point. Alongside his claims about ruthless short-termism, lack of sustained support and the negative drain on sales and income, perhaps the factor that has done most to undercut the achievements of music-makers (and the one which most consistently angers them) is the degraded impact iTunes has had on the default sound quality of most modern music. Simply, what we hear after downloading a track is often a million miles away from what the artist intended us to hear. It’s a worry that theartsdesk expressed earlier this year in one of our most keenly debated articles, "Opinion: RIP Sound Quality?" Read it and weep - or disagree.
And what of Townshend's other points about the internet and music: out of touch or nail on head?
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