The BBC reports Townshend has urged Apple's iTunes to use its power to help new bands instead of "bleeding" artists like a "digital vampire."
The rock legend listed eight services that record labels and music publishers have traditionally provided to artists, such as editorial guidance and "creative nurture."
"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, like a digital Northern Rock, for its enormous commission?" he asked.
Apple should employ 20 talent scouts "from the dying record business" to give guidance to new acts and provide financial and marketing support to the best ones, he added.
ITunes accounts for more than 75% of all legal downloads. An Apple spokesman declined to comment on Townshend's remarks.
The legendary guitarist and songwriter made the comments Monday evening at BBC 6 Music's inaugural John Peel Lecture, named in honor of the legendary British DJ.
Pete argued against unauthorized file-sharing, saying the internet was "destroying copyright as we know it. The word 'sharing' surely means giving away something you have earned, or made, or paid for?" he said.
The guitarist also said that people who downloaded his music without paying for it "may as well come and steal my son's bike while they're at it.” 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."
But he also told listeners: "It's tricky to argue for the innate value of copyright from a position of good fortune, as I do. I've done all right," adding, "A creative person would prefer their music to be stolen and enjoyed than ignored. This is the dilemma for every creative soul: he or she would prefer to starve and be heard than to eat well and be ignored."
The Who are reissuing their 1973 classic, “Quadrophenia,” in various formats including a “Quadrophenia: The Director’s Cut” boxset, on November 14th (UK) and November 15th (US).
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