neil young impoverished pono zealot

Neil Young: ‘Streaming Ends For Me Today’

Neil Young has long been a harsh critic of music streaming services, so much so that he began development of his super high-quality music player, Pono, thanks to a Kickstarter compaign. Here is the ridiculously preachy first paragraph of Pono’s About Us page:

Pono means righteous. It is a Hawaiian word, the one, the pureness. On behalf of Pono, we thank you for helping us give music a voice. You have helped to set the stage for a revolution in music listening. Finally, quality enters the listening space so that we can all hear and feel what the artists created, the way they heard and felt it.

However, now it seems that old man Young has had enough of inferior streaming services altogether, having this to say on Facebook:

Streaming has ended for me. I hope this is ok for my fans.

It’s not because of the money, although my share (like all the other artists) was dramatically reduced by bad deals made without my consent.

It’s about sound quality. I don’t need my music to be devalued by the worst quality in the history of broadcasting or any other form of distribution. I don’t feel right allowing this to be sold to my fans. It’s bad for my music.

For me, It’s about making and distributing music people can really hear and feel. I stand for that.

When the quality is back, I’ll give it another look. Never say never.

Neil Young

Young’s decision to take down his music echoes that of Taylor Swift, who removed her music from Spotify late last year. Swift, however, recently rescinded by consenting to have her music on Apple Music after the company increased artist compensation. Interestingly, Young’s issue is not one of royalties, but of sound quality, which would appear an honourable pursuit of artistic integrity, if not for Young’s presence behind the production of the expensive Pono player.

By leaving the door ajar for a return of his music to streaming services, Young could be acknowledging the growth of services such as TIDAL and Deezer, which offer tiered sound qualities. But until Young softens his opinion of streaming, it’s back to the CD/ vinyl player if you’re searching for a Heart of Gold.