Neil Young seems to live by the motto: If you want something done right, do it yourself. The legendary musician, activist and philanthropist has long been outspoken against the inferior audio formats available to consumers and has now come up with a solution. Last week he sat down with David Letterman to talk about Pono – the new high-resolution music service that he is launching to compete with sonic inferiority of compressed formats like MP3s – and his new book Waging Heavy Peace. You can check out the interview below.
The goal with Pono is preserve a fuller, more accurate sound than can be found on CDs or MP3s. As Young writes in his new memoir, Pono will unite record labels with cloud storage “to save the sound of music.” In fact the title of the book Waging Heavy Peace comes from the response Young gave when a friend asked if he was declaring war on Apple with the new service. “I have consistently reached out to try to assist Apple with true audio quality, and I have even shared my high-resolution masters with them.” The singer-songwriter was apparently in touch with Steve Jobs, regarding Pono, before the Apple co-founder’s death a year ago.
For those who are concerned about re-purchasing their entire music library, Young has stated that Pono will play other digital formats and points out that the new service “will force iTunes to be better and to improve quality at a faster pace.”
“His reasons are so not based in commerce, and based in just the desire for people to really feel the uplifting spirit of music,” explains Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist, Flea, who had an opportunity to test drive the new system in Young’s Cadillac Eldorado last year. “MP3s suck. It’s just a shadow of the music.”
Young’s new service has already caught the attention of the Big Three record companies: Warner Music Group, Universal Music Group and Sony Music. In fact, WMG has already converted its entire 8,000 album library to high-resolution, 192kHz/24-bit sound. “This has to be an industry-wide solution. This is not about competing – this is about us being proactive,” explained Craig Kallman (chairman and chief executive of Atlantic Records) to Rolling Stone. “This is all about purely the opportunity to bring the technology to the table.”
Pono will be released sometime next year.