He also argued against unauthorised 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 rock legend listed eight services that record labels and music publishers have traditionally provided to artists, such as editorial guidance and "creative nurture".
Pete Townshend on John PeelSometimes he played some records that no-one else would ever have played”
ITunes accounts for more than 75% of all legal downloads. An Apple spokesman declined to comment on Townshend's remarks.
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", he said.
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."
Creative dilemma And he added: "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 guitarist praised John Peel, who died in 2004, for his dedication to listening to the music he was sent by up-and-coming acts.
"Sometimes he played some records that no-one else would ever have played, and that would never be played on radio again," he said.
"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 like me to the radio audience."
The talk, held as part of the Radio Festival, will become an annual event given by a different music figure every year.
Held at The Lowry theatre in Salford, it is intended to be the music industry's equivalent of the annual MacTaggart Lecture, which is given by a leading media executive at the Edinburgh International Television Festival every August.