iTunes bleeds musicians "like a digital vampire Northern Rock," according to The Who's Pete Townshend, the Guardian reports.
Speaking on Monday night at the inaugural John Peel Lecture, broadcast live on BBC 6 Music, Townshend said Apple should be doing more to support new musicians by hiring talent spotters to offer financial and creative support.
The Chiswick rock legend compared music to the banking industry, saying, "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?"
Apple should give away free computers, software and training to the 500 artists it felt most deserving, as picked by 20 A&R people it'd hired from the fledgling music industry, Townshend recommended. He described them as "20 John Peels" working for iTunes.
He also wanted iTunes to have a place for artists to share their music, "like a local radio station".
Townshend said his "inner artist" thought Steve Jobs "one of the coolest guys on the planet", but also said he had previously wanted to "cut off part of his anatomy related to reproduction". He said that Jobs, while having done some amazing things, didn't understand the creative world.
Townshend also hit out at people who download music without paying. "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 pirates who thought artists would eventually get paid somehow were in denial. "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," he added.
Is Townshend right about iTunes and file sharing? Or an addled old rock dinosaur who doesn't understand the modern world? Let us know in the comments section below, or on our Facebook page.