Neil Young Launches Pono Music Player
IF you can’t sell records anymore, thanks to illegal downloaders and the like, then why not work out another way of making money? That’s what Neil Young has done – instead of pissing around with music sales, he’s launched something you can’t download: something to play your music on.
So say hello to the Pono, which is apparently a high quality device. Young said of the gizmo: “once you hear this, you can’t go back”.
Pono will be a digital music service (PonoMusic) and 128GB portable device (PonoPlayer) and you’ll be able to store 2,000 high resolution songs.
It is described as a “purpose-built, portable, high-resolution digital-music player designed and engineered in a “no-compromise” fashion to allow consumers to experience studio master-quality digital music at the highest audio fidelity possible, bringing the true emotion and detail of the music, the way the artist recorded it, to life.”
Obviously, most people download average-quality MP3s, which will sound average on whatever device you play them on. This is clearly being aimed at old men who get aroused at expensive speaker wire and clay record players.
Young reckons he’s got the support of the industry too, saying: “They’re all with us, all the record companies.”
He continued: “I’m a fan of listening loud… I love to listen loud… I like to take whatever it is to the limit.” He thinks that isn’t possible with MP3. After the introduction of the MP3… “Everything started to die – it was because of the MP3 and the cheapening of the quality to where it was practically unrecognisable.”
“As a guy who’d been making records for many years at that point, I was pissed off – I love every note, on every song, on every record…. They weren’t just filler.” He then said that the sound of MP3 was ‘shit’: “We were selling shit, but people were still buying it because they like music [but] they were buying Xeroxes of the Mona Lisa.”
Obviously, Neil Young can’t remember the 50s and 60s where rock and roll was booming thanks to people with awful and tiny speakers built into transistor radios, picking up dodgy signals from offshore radio stations, which themselves were playing dodgy pressings of vinyl.
A revolution started with lo-fi recordings and the industry go stung after repackaging everything as CDs, which promised better clarity, which barely anyone can hear.
“Instead of being soulful – which it still is – music adapted, it became beat heavy, it became smart, it became tricky. But for me, it was like ‘woah, I don’t want to do that!’… I started thinking it might be a good idea to do something about it”.
Young then showed a video of artists talking about Pono, including Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, Patti Smith, Mumford and Sons, Dave Grohl, Elvis Costello, Mike D of the Beastie Boys and Jack White. You’ll notice that they’re all old and white, right?
“Pono plays back whatever the artist decided to do,” says Young. “My body is getting washed, I’m getting hit with something great. It’s not ice cubes, it’s water – I’m listening. I’m feeling.”
Meanwhile, the kids are getting ‘washed’ by new, exciting music that they watch live, hear in clubs and ultimately, is designed with modern ears and equipment in mind. Neil Young hasn’t started a revolution, but he will be preaching to the choir that happens to have a lot of expendable cash.