If the MP3 destroyed music quality, can it all be reversed? “We were selling shit!” Neil Young told a SXSW audience on Tuesday, referring to the compressed format.
And the solution? Neil Young proudly offered Pono, a music player with a polarizing design. In reality, the player itself has been around for a while: in 2012, Young introduced a prototype of the player on Late Show With David Letterman. Now, there’s a Kickstarter set up to fund the player, and Young is trying to drum up support for it.
Digital music is in the crapper, according to Young. and this is his solution.
PonoPlayer is an awkward looking triangle shaped music player.
The player can play music the user already owns, or music purchased through the PonoMusic app. The app is available on Windows and Mac and sells high quality FLAC music taken from master recordings.
PonoPlayer has two audio output jacks. One jack is designed for headphone listening and the other is designed for plugging into your home stereo.
The player is currently available for $300 via Kickstarter. Retail value is $399, a price point that probably won’t catch on any time soon… but then again, people pay $300 for Beats headphones.
There have also been questions regarding the PonoMusic business model. At the SXSW talk an audience member asked what percentage of music sales Pono would keep. Pono’s CEO, John Hamm, got flustered and changed the subject, saying “It surprises most people that everyone who buys music from the record labels pays exactly the same amount”.
When questioned further Hamm refused to answer the question and moved to end the talk.