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John Peel's twisted internet memorial?

John Peel was memorialised last week by the announcement of a website "devoted to finding fresh talent". The website is tended by John's son (Tom Ravenscroft). Bands can make MP3s available for download, and the most popular (i.e. most downloaded) may be signed by Universal Music Group.

Is there anything more antithetical to what John Peel did for the UK music scene?

It goes against what he stood for in two ways. Firstly it's blandly populist. Imagine a song that you might hear on one of John's shows - something you've never heard before, and is quirky, and does something new. Now imagine how that track would fare on any kind of voting-based system (for example, one of those Saturday-night telly talent contests). Democracy is simply not built for innovation, and averaging out a group of people's tastes (even, dare I say it, if those people are all John Peel listeners) is no way to discover fresh talent.

Secondly, Universal is one of the largest record companies in the world, nothing like the indie record labels that John did so much to champion. It's certainly easier to arrange for one massive record label to benefit from this website, than for a variety of small ones, but that's no excuse for misappropriating John Peel's contribution to culture.

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