Having just listened to Pete Townsend give BBC 6 Music’s inaugural John Peel Lecture, I’m moved (as are several of my podcasting buddies) to respond.
I’m not sure what the BBC had hoped involving Townsend. If they hoped that the 66 year old guitarist would prove to be as eclectic and enlightened as the late John Peel (pbuh) who sadly died at the age of 65, then they were clearly wrong. Townsend delivered an incoherent ramble explaining why it was impossible to find good music on the internet, why Apple was a “Digital Vampire” and how the internet was “destroying copyright as we know it”. These are not the cogent and coherent arguments of an experienced musician delivering a lecture fitting of the late John Peel, these are just the public house ramblings of an surfing novice.
Agreed, if you just search for “music” online, you’ll be bombarded with sponsored links to iTunes, Spotify and other sites, which don’t offer the best returns to professional musicians. But if that’s what Townsend believes the internet user is doing then he’s more of an “old fart” than even I expected.
For example: If I wanted to buy the latest surround sound, hi-fi system, would I just wander into a large electrical outlet and ask them to sell me what they recommend. Well, maybe a man who likes to be parted from his money easily would, but I’m looking for more insight. I want to know what each button is supposed to do, and why I need it. In other words: I need to do some research. So, I pop down to my local specialist, spend an hour or several in the soundproofed room and chose a system that the local specialist knows will give me pleasure for years to come.
The same is true with all things, music included. If you want to truly enjoy your music, then seek out a good guide. This is what John Peel was. So the real question is: who are today’s guides? Obviously it’s not Apple, or Spotify. They’re out to shift volume products. So why is Townsend expecting them to deliver? The old record labels are dead: they have no more A&R staff, but we already know this.
The guides have always been: Late Night Radio DJ’s, Record Show Owners and Independent Labels. These are people you can trust. You won’t like everything they recommend, but that’s your loss. They have great taste, and you can acquire and influence that taste by joining in.
Add to that, today’s guides include podcasters, along with the music bloggers, netlabels owners, and any independent artist who is brave enough to license their work using creative commons licenses. We are the modern guides, and there are plenty of people listening to what we say. Some of us have been doing it for 6-7 years. And where will you find podcasters? iTunes of course. It’s not all evil in the iTunes store.
In my view Townsend just didn’t do enough research before he gave this lecture. The BBC didn’t do enough research before appointing Townsend to give the lecture. Myself, or any one of my podcasting, blogging, netlabel or musican buddies could have done a better job. If you’re reading this post then I believe YOU could have done a better job. You’ve done your research to find this blog, and John Peel would be proud of you.
Next year’s lecture needs to be so much better. I won’t get fooled again.
BBC Report HERE
Secret Archives report HERE
Dark Compass report HERE