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Who's Townshend slams iTunes as 'heartless'

Apple iTunes is 'software attached to a bank'

The Who guitarist Pete Townshend has blasted Apple's iTunes Store as "brilliant, but heartless".

In his personal blog he responds to an article by Simon Jenkins in The Sunday Times. Jenkins wrote how thrilled he was by the resurgence of live performance and the death of recorded music.

"Artists can no longer sell the products of their genius because the internet supplies it virtually for free. What can be sold is that genius in the flesh," Jenkins thrills.

"The money is now being made in supplying a public craving not for technology but for human experience. It lies in flesh and blood. Live is live," Jenkins ends.

Despite making millions from The Who's live performances, Townshend does not approve of Jenkins' glee and slams internet download services such as iTunes, as well as defending recorded music in general.

"A live show is a chance to travel in the moment, and to enjoy the company of others, including the performer who we assume will have had some role in the composition, that I accept and exalt, as does Simon Jenkins.

"But to listen to my original recording of Quadrophenia is to travel in a series of moments from 1972-1973 during which my band The Who and myself and my young family were entering a period of creative renaissance. I wasn't even 30 years old.

"Would you seriously prefer to see me, a thinning-haired old rocker in my 60s, singing songs I wrote when I was in my late 20s about experiences I observed in my audience when we were all in our late teens? Live is live? Live is absurd sometimes.

"There is little point trying to respond to the obvious glee of journalists celebrating the fact that musical copyright has collapsed and that musicians must face working live to reach an audience," writes Townshend.

"As for the record industry, I'm stunned at how many fools there are who don't see that it operated once just as literary publishing houses did - the pop hits were like the crime pot-boilers that paid for the poetry. Without the pop, the seriously adventurous composers would never have been recorded at all.

"Without a record company I would not have been able to survive awkward periods of my creative cycle, the simple ups and downs of life. I don't sack someone just because they have a baby or get sick or depressed. My record company allowed me the same license to fail to show up for work sometimes. They stood by me.

"iTunes simply doesn't have the heart, it is software attached to a bank, nothing more, nothing less. Brilliant, but heartless."

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