The inaugural John Peel Lecture took place on Monday 31st October 2011, with Pete Townsend, lead guitarist of The Who delivering the first address:
Pete Townshend examines the current state of music media and asks the question: Can John Peelism survive the Internet? In an age of free downloads and a disposable attitude to music, can creative people earn a living, and without radio how can the “unpolished” music that John Peel championed find an audience?
“I have limited time. Looking at what John Peel did with his show on radio for many years is worth looking at. But I must assume that most listeners will know what he did. Annie Nightingale once told me that John was one of the few deejays at Radio 1 who would take home everything left in the in-tray cubbyholes at the end of each week. More than that, he listened to it all. Sometimes he played some records that no one else would ever have played, and that would never be played on radio again. But he listened, and he played a selection of records in the course of each week that his listeners knew (partly because the selection was sometimes so insane) proved he was genuinely engaged in his work as an almost unconditional conduit between creative musicians to the radio audience.
So he listened.
And he took chances with what he played.
And he is gone.
Why was John Peel’s system important? Why is listening important? Why is being ready to give space to less polished music important? Will John Peelism survive the internet? Or is John Peelism thriving on the internet without many of us realising it?”
Townsend talks about how music is distributed and listened to these days, he also rails against iTunes, calling it a “digital vampire”.
Reviewers of his address were nonplussed:
– The musician and writer Chris T-T hoped that speech would have been more about the music rather than the industry.
– Helienne Lindvall writes on the Guardian music blog saying that Townsend is wrong and that iTunes is no digital vampire.
So the question is then – (in the hope that the BBC doesn’t abandon this as they did with the John Peel Day and podcast) – Who should give the address next year ?
I took to Twitter and asks for suggestions, the ten most mentioned included below.
Vote on who you think should give the lecture next year:
UPDATE: The public opinion on who should give the next lecture is...
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If there’s somebody you think of who isn’t there, leave a comment below with your reason.
Additional to the lecture there was the BBC 6 Music Showcase also at Media City in Salford.
In concert were The Charlatans, Bombay Bicycle Club and for your listening here: John Cooper Clarke (as broadcast on Mark Riley’s show that night). The audio begins with Riley talking to Mark Radcliffe and Stuart Maconie before going over to Cooper Clarke live on stage.
– or download/embed [20MB – 22 mins long]
Results of the poll will be posted here in exactly 7 days from publication of the post.