updated 06:05 pm EDT, Mon October 31, 2011
Who frontman says Apple should focus on bands
The Who lead Pete Townshend used a presentation at the John Peel Lecture to chastise Apple for not doing enough to support bands. He argued with the AP attending that iTunes "bleeds like a digital vampire" artists whose music it sold but didn't encourage. He suggested that Apple should pay more independent artists directly, rather than favoring distributors, and let artists stream their music instead of one-off downloads. He even proposed Apple take on label-like tasks, such as running talent scouts to find undiscovered bands and promote them itself.
To some extent, iTunes already fulfills some of the goals. While not as simple, some artists have had direct access. Apple has also been conducting early experiments in letting artists stream music, such as a Red Hot Chili Peppers stream in the run-up to their most recent album launch. The company still tends to prefer agencies, including relatively hands-off conduits such as TuneCore, and doesn't have an option for artists who want more permanent options for streaming.
Famous musicians such as Bon Jovi have accused Apple of killing music before. Typically, though, these have been veteran artists used to the traditional physical store model and not those who have adapted to downloads. Coldplay recently took the opposite approach to Townshend and kept its album Myxo Xyloto off of Spotify and other streaming services as they don't often make significant revenue from plays.
Townshend in his speech was more even-handed in arguing for broader change. He saw both sides needing to adjust their approaches to music, although he contended that some fans were too selective in what they they were willing to pay for.