thinks he’s cracked the secret to marketing high-fidelity music to the masses, and he might be right.
As reported by CBC, Young gave an update on the status of his audiophile Pono music player and its web store, which has been closed since last summer, and provided some details on the new direction he and his team have been moving in. He views the greatest failing of Pono as the high cost of music for customers using the marketplace, something that stems from the way music companies structure pricing in tiers organized by audio quality, but came to the realization that “good sounding music is not a premium.”
“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,” Young explained, before announcing Xstream, an in-the-works “adaptive streaming service.”
By “adaptive,” Young means that the service will play music “at the highest quality your network condition allows at that moment and adapt as the network conditions change.” In terms of pricing, Young didn’t provide any concrete numbers, but he did espouse his views on how to make his goal a success, stating, “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. 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.”
It’s clear that Young’s goal is for high-quality audio to become the norm, not a premium service, and if he’s able to develop a means of delivering this service at a price comparable to streaming giants like Spotify or Apple Music, and more importantly, a price lower than streaming’s current hi-fi leader Tidal, then he might have a good shot. We’ll be looking forward to seeing what Ol’ Neil can put together and wish him the best of luck.
While you mull over your thoughts on Xstream, enjoy this classic Neil Young & Crazy Horse set from the 1994 Bridge School Benefit via the Paste Cloud.