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?
Subscribe to theartsdesk.com
Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £2.95 per month or £25 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.
To take an annual subscription now simply click here.
And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?
more New music
30 years on, the electro-pop duo still joyously push the show to new places
Further bleak and beautiful ambient-classical-drone textures
The Great Cornish poet set to music
Sensational performance from Lauren Laverne's Wonder Woman
George Thompson's debut is a clever and considered communion of cultures
Another outing for the essential album by Britain’s very own New York Dolls
Subtly original showcasing of saxophone multiphonics
Canadian electronic duo take no prisoners with their third album
Anglo-French duo’s debut is a psychedelic guitar pop masterpiece
An unforgettable encounter with Norway’s sinuous rock-jazz riff machine
Masterful four-hour show from a genius of popular music
A unique sound-world created from the endless resources of jazz, classical and pop