It’s like a comet that keeps circling around the center of the music world. Neil Young has popped up all over my FB page, in emails, and on the web. It started last night just before I was getting ready to leave the studio. Bob Lefsetz, music pundit in chief, weighed in on Neil and his Pono initiative in relation to streaming services. His newsletter stated,
“Old man take a look at yourself
What if you put out new music and no one cared?
Even better, what if you said you were gonna save the music business and no one cared?
Then you’d be Neil Young.
I’d say he’s become a laughingstock, but the people he’s playing to, the writers for the somnambulant press, trumpet his every word and neglect to point out his failings.
That’s right, they review all his new music, usually giving it stellar accolades. And then when it fails in the marketplace…crickets.
Where’s the follow-up story to the Pono disaster? We had to endure endless plaudits for his Toblerone box, how so few paid so much on Kickstarter, Neil appeared not only on late night TV, but at the Salesforce conference. Then the product became commercially available and it made less noise than Peter Frampton’s “I’m In You.” At least the press castigated Robin Thicke for his “Paula” album, but more people heard that than Pono.
Why does Neil Young get a pass?”
And then I read this today. Neil Young posted this on his FB page…
“Streaming has ended for me. I hope this is ok for my fans.
It’s not because of the money, although my share (like all the other artists) was dramatically reduced by bad deals made without my consent.
It’s about sound quality. I don’t need my music to be devalued by the worst quality in the history of broadcasting or any other form of distribution. I don’t feel right allowing this to be sold to my fans. It’s bad for my music.
For me, It’s about making and distributing music people can really hear and feel. I stand for that.
When the quality is back, I’ll give it another look. Never say never.
I’ve met Neil and know his team of audio engineers. I know he cares of the “sound” of his records…that distorted, analog, thick, dirty, fidelity that is crafted by highly skilled practitioners of the analog black art. But distribution formats are distribution formats. He’s ranting about streaming because the sound is so bad. Hello? What about cassettes, MP3 at 128 kbps, HD Radio, and iTunes AAC downloads at 256 kbps. You’re OK with those formats and your music?
The problem with streaming is the business arrangement and the lack of respect for the artists. The winners are the streaming services, the rights owners, and the investors. Neil should be rejecting streaming for the right reasons.
Read Your Streaming Music Payments Are Going Where? by Joshua Brustein. The RIAA may try to argue with the results of the Berklee study but the fact is that musicians made more money before streaming.