Apple must start helping new bands and solo artists instead of "bleeding" them like a "digital vampire", The Who guitarist Pete Townshend has said.

Townshend's comments were made in BBC 6 Music's inaugural John Peel Lecture, the BBC reports. He argued that iTunes should play a role in the development of new talent as 75 percent of legally obtained music was bought through Apple's music store.

"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?"

Townshend wants Apple to employ talent scouts to nuture new talent and provide financial support for some of the best new acts.

Meanwhile, Townshend also had harsh words for illegal downloaders. People who downloaded music illegally might as well come and steal his physical possessions as well, he said. "I wonder what has gone wrong with human morality and social justice."

However, he recognised that some artists would rather have their music shared rather than consigned to obscurity due to lack of exposure. "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."