Neil Young Withholding His Own Music from Pono…

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Neil Young, the guy who started Pono, is now giving an exclusive on his new release to Tidal.

After raising more than $12 million and promising to revolutionize digital music with Pono, Neil Young is making his believers wait.  As of Monday morning (May 16th), Neil Young’s just-released ‘Love and Only Love’ is available only as a pre-order on PONO, while Tidal enjoys the full exclusive.

Here’s what happens if you try to listen to Young’s 28-minute ‘track’ on Pono:

Meanwhile, Tidal subscribers are already enjoying the release…

The super-lengthy track prefaces the release of the broader Earth, which may also be a Tidal exclusive.   The tracklisting for Earth, slated for June 17th release, is as follows:

01. People Want to Hear About Love (from The Monsanto Years)
02. Big Box (from The Monsanto Years)
03. Mother Earth (from Ragged Glory)
04. The Monsanto Years (from The Monsanto Years)
05. I Won’t Quit (previously unreleased)
06. Western Hero (from Sleeps With Angels)
07. Vampire Blues (from On The Beach)
08. Hippie Dream (from Landing On Water)
09. After The Gold Rush (from After The Gold Rush)
10. Wolf Moon (from The Monsanto Years)
11. Love & Only Love (from Ragged Glory)

Pono, initially praised as a messiah for restoring audio fidelity to the digital listening experience, is quietly receding to the wastebin of failed music technologies.  After introducing a clunky, triangular device that required expensive, proprietary downloads, Pono struggled to gain any meaningful consumer traction.  Executive shakiness and a decided lack of direction soon followed, with competitors like Apple Music and Tidal eventually entering the race.

Perhaps Tidal, which is now making huge strides in both subscriber numbers and overall profile, is grabbing the mantle and pioneering the higher-end digital audio space.  As of last count, Tidal announced 3 million subscribers, with 1.5 million of those subscribing to higher-end, near-$20 monthly fees.  That figure is only set to increase, with Tidal reporting another 1.2 million (paid and trial) following a high-profile Beyonce exclusive.

Neil Young's Struggling Pono Sales
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Young is unlikely to create as big of a ripple, though perhaps his latest move is leaving Pono dead in the water.  According to stats obtained by Digital Music News nine months after the release of Pono in 2015, overall device sales were disappointingly soft.  Perhaps the comparison is unfair, though Pono’s market impact was roughly 10% of Apple’s progress on first-generation iPods in the early 2000s, itself a slow ramp-up.

Since that point, there have been few signs for an uptick in Pono sales.

11 Responses

  1. J Criswell

    What a bullshit story, Pono is a great affordable high res music player and yes, “Earth” will be released in the Pono high res store on 06/24/16.

    • ©

      Someone seems butt-hurt. Did you overpay for a Pono or are you on their PR team? Did you not read the article?

      It clearly says that you can listen to the album now on Tidal (as well as save it for offline listening) and yet you CANNOT on Pono until late June.

      Seems like Neil Young really gives a shit about your early adopting

    • Rick Shaw

      $400 is not an affordable price for such a piece of technology.

  2. Archives Guy

    Another great example of non-news on the internet and someone trying to sensationalize something out of nothing. What a dumb article.

    • ©

      It’s pretty obvious when you comment twice under two different names (just so you know)

  3. Ezraz

    Sounds like the author has a personal problem with Neil. Pono users/customers are a happy lot that will get Neil’s latest project when it’s available. Like he’s stocking the digital record store himself.

    Comparing sales of a kickstarter device with an Apple product from 15 years ago? That’s desperate. Enjoy your 10% audio files played on a phone, pretend you are feeling it.

    In other news, Digital Music News is slowly fading into the dustbin of… well wait it wasn’t that important to begin with. Meanwhile my ponoplayer happily plays pure joy from master quality recordings, no rental fee, no screwing the artists, no DRM, no forced upgrade cycle. The best purchase I’ve ever made for music playback.

    This place is called Digital Music News, not streaming music news. Why no coverage of other DAP’s, or is it too much fun taking pot shots at Neil? People around the world use DAP’s similar to ponoplayer to enjoy full-quality digital music. You should look into that.

    • ©

      Why support a platform that even the founder isn’t supporting over Tidal?

      I don’t know why Pono early (or final as it seems) adopters are the most butt-hurt audience. There are articles about iTunes with less butt-hurt from apple fanboys (and girls).

      Keep on keeping on, because Neil Young won’t care or even give you the same level of access that millions of people get for small monthly fees.

    • Vinyl Confessor

      Best purchase ever made for music playback? That would be a decent turntable and set of loudspeakers….it’s what Pono is trying to approximate….why not just get the real thing?

  4. confreg

    oh my. Digital sounds terrible in any format. I will continue listen to compact cassettes.