Three years ago, Neil Young started the long journey to launch Pono Music, his proprietary audio player and online storefront for high fidelity recordings. It soon became clear that the endeavor was mostly bullshit, and it seems like anyone that bought into it has been slowly coming to that realization themselves.
The Pono store has been offline since last July, and a cursory look at the company’s Facebook page reveals a lot of disgruntled customers.
But it looks like Young is attempting to start over by branching out into his own hi-fi streaming service called Xstream. (As Exclaim points out, that’s the same name of the streaming service that’s featured in the FOX show Empire.) In a new post on the Pono community website (via CBC), Young announced the company’s pivot to streaming audio.
He partnered with Singapore firm Orastream to create “an adaptive streaming service that changes with available bandwidth” for “complete high-resolution playback.”
“For more than eight months, I’ve been working with our small team to look for alternatives. Finding a way to deliver the quality music without the expense and to bring it to a larger audience has been our goal,” he wrote. “Xstream plays at the highest quality your network condition allows at that moment and adapts as the network conditions change. It’s a single high-resolution bit-perfect file that essentially compresses as needed to never stop playing.” Every Young recording will be available on Xstream in the near future.
Young acknowledged Pono’s rocky start, and admitted that the exorbitantly high prices for Pono-exclusive files (albums cost anywhere from $20-30; individual tracks were $1.99 to $2.99) were part of the reason it didn’t work out as anticipated. “All songs should cost the same, regardless of digital resolution.
Let the people decide what they want to listen to without charging them more for true quality,” he wrote. “That way quality is not an elitist thing. If high-resolution costs more, listeners will just choose the cheaper option and never hear the quality.”
Young says in the post that the new streaming service has been “a difficult sell” for investors, but that he’s committed to pushing forward. Long live Xstream!
This article was originally published by Stereogum
Neil Young will release a new album, entitled EARTH, on June 24th via Reprise Records. The album features performances of songs from a range of Young's albums, including last year's The Monsanto Years, 1990's Ragged Glory, and 1970's After the Gold Rush. The audio was captured during Young's 2015 tour with The Promise of the Real, fronted by Lukas Nelson (vocals/guitar) and Micah Nelson (guitar, vocals) - Willie Nelson's sons. The tour includedYoung performing solo and with the band for a full electric show.
A new take on some of Young's most beloved songs, EARTH features the live recordings, along with added musical overdubs, as well as sounds of the earth, such as city sounds like car horns, sounds of insects, and animal sounds from bears, birds, crickets, bees, horses, cows - creating a very strange, yet beautiful atmosphere.
"Ninety-eight uninterrupted minutes long, EARTH flows as a collection of 13 songs from throughout my life, songs I have written about living here on our planet together," says Young. "Our animal kingdom is well represented in the audience as well, and the animals, insects, birds, and mammals actually take over the performances of the songs at times."
Coming out on July 1st are two rare films - the critically acclaimed post-apocalyptic musical comedy Human Highway and the concert feature Rust Never Sleeps- for the first time on DVD and Blu Ray via Reprise Records. Neither film has been available or viewed in years. Human Highway is Young's 1982 comedy starring Russ Tamblyn, Charlotte Stewart, Dean Stockwell, DennisHopper, and Devo, which has been digitally restored for the DVD and Blu Ray release. Rust Never Sleeps isthe full-length feature about Young's 1978 concert tour and includes such classic youngYoung's most popular songs, showcasing classic hits such as "I Am a Child," featuring Crazy Horse, "Cinnamon Girl," "Like A Hurricane" and both the acoustic and electric versions of hislandmark song "Hey Hey, My My." Both are currently available for pre-order through Neil Young Storeand Amazon.com. Special bundles are available exclusively through Neil Young Store only.
Revised track-listing for EARTH is as follows:
"Mother Earth" (from Ragged Glory)
"Seed Justice" (previously unreleased)
"My Country Home" (from Ragged Glory)
"The Monsanto Years" (from The Monsanto Years)
"Western Hero" (from Sleeps With Angels)
"Vampire Blues" (from On The Beach)
"Hippie Dream" (from Landing On Water)
"After The Gold Rush" (from After The Gold Rush)
"Human Highway" (from Comes a Time)
"Big Box" (from The Monsanto Years)
"People Want to Hear About Love" (from The Monsanto Years)
"Wolf Moon" (from The Monsanto Years)
"Love & Only Love" (from Ragged Glory)
NEWS / Neil Young has announced a new live album entitled 'EARTH'. Set to include recording's from last year's tour 'The Monsanto Years,' the album will also feature the previously unshared 'I Won't Quit'.
The album will also include highlights from Young's extensive discography, with new musical overdubs added to the mixes as well as a host of nature-inspired sounds.
According to a press release, bears, birds, crickets, bees, horses, cows, and "sounds of the earth" can all be heard throughout the album, juxtaposed with "city sounds" like car horns.
Young will be playing the album in its entirety on May 6, ahead of its release on June 17. He'll be treating fans to a performance at the Natural History Museum Los Angeles County, as well as discussing the construction of the record.
It will be his first ever album preview show; fans unable to attend will be able to listen to the audio streamed through his Pono service.
In a press release, Young described the album as "ninety-eight uninterrupted minutes," that stand "as a collection of 13 songs from throughout my life."
He continued that "our animal kingdom is well represented in the audience as well, and the animals, insects, birds, and mammals actually take over the performances of the songs at times." In an Instagram post, he said that the album "does not fit on iTunes."
CONCERT NEWS / De legendarische Neil Young komt op 24 juni naar ons land! En als we de recensies uit de Verenigde Staten mogen geloven, zal hij met zijn Rebel Content Tour ook het Sportpaleis van Antwerpen helemaal omverblazen!
Neil Young wordt voor deze gelegenheid vergezeld door Promise of the Real. Promise of the Real werd in 2008 opgericht door gitarist Lukas Nelson. U kon het al raden, zoon van de legendarische Willie Nelson!
Een epische show van akoestisch naar elektrisch! Eentje om alvast te noteren in uw agenda, op 24 juni in het Sportpaleis Antwerpen. Voor de voetbalfans onder u, op vrijdag 24 juni staan er gaan EK-voetbalmatchen geprogrammeerd.
Tickets voor deze show gaan in verkoop op vrijdag 18 december om 10u op gracialive.be of 070 345 345.
Hieronder vindt u een paar fragmenten uit Rolling Stone Magazine die u een voorsmaakje geven over dit concert en de samenwerking met Promise of the Real:
“Every show began with Young alone at the piano playing "After the Gold Rush," followed by solo acoustic renditions of some of his biggest hits, like "Heart of Gold," "Old Man" and "Long May You Run," on guitar.”
“Neil does whatever he wants whenever the muse calls him, but it seems like right now the muse is Promise of the Real, and Neil is our muse. It's a beautiful collaboration. It sounds like we're going to push it until it can't go any further."
"It was just one of many surreal moments for the 25-year-old son of Willie Nelson, who played guitar with his brother Lukas' band Promise of the Real on Young's newest album, The Monsanto Years.Together they staged three-hour marathon shows that mixed classic Young hits with new tracks and deep cuts that hadn't been touched in years.”
"Playing with these guys was a gift," he wrote. "Such positivity, pure energy & no fear. I loved working with Promise of the Real. I love this band. Lets keep it going.”
ij het Amerikaanse televisiestation Democracy Now is gisteren het eerste nummer van het nieuwe album van Neil Young in première gegaan. De song, die Rock Starbucks heet, is een aanklacht tegen de bekende Amerikaanse koffieketen en is te vinden op Youngs album The Monsanto Years. Dat nam hij op met de zonen van Willie Nelson, Lukas en Micah.
Young voert al sinds vorig jaar actie tegen Starbucks. Aanleiding voor de actie van de rocker is dat de populaire wereldwijde koffieketen de Amerikaanse biotechnologie-multinational Monsanto zou steunen in een proces tegen de Amerikaanse staat Vermont. De overheid van Vermont wil voedselbedrijven verplichten op de etiketten van hun producten te vermelden of het genetisch gemodificeerde ingrediënten bevat. Monsanto en een aantal andere voedselproducenten zijn fel tegen zo'n vermelding.
Starbuck reageerde snel met een persbericht waarin gesteld wordt dat de keten niet tot de bedrijven behoort die Monsanto steunen in hun strijd tegen de staat Vermont. Bio-actievoerders benadrukken echter dat het koffiebedrijf wel degelijk gemodificeerde melk gebruikt en dus belang heeft bij de rechtszaak van Monsanto.
Neil Young zit in een productieve fase. Na A Letter Home en Storytone in 2014 is The Monsanto Years, dat 16 juni verschijnt, zijn derde plaat in ruim een jaar tijd.