Published Aug 21, 2015Neil Young recently announced that he isn't on board with streaming services due to their allegedly sub-par sound quality. Instead, he is pushing ahead with his audiophile digital music service Pono, and following its launch last year, the veteran rocker has given an update on his company and its Tobleronic players.
In a lengthy Facebook message, Young opened up about the challenges of being a relatively small-scale company. He described the service as a "labour of love," writing, "It has not been easy but we are doing what we love to do."
He noted that the company is still looking for an experienced business leader who shares Pono's vision, and admitted that limited resources have made it difficult for the U.S.-based firm to expand internationally into Canada, the UK and Germany.
For the most part, however, the tone of the message is fairly positive, as Young repeatedly reiterates Pono's mission: to present music in its purest form, and "not some 21st century fake shallow Xerox facsimile, with all of the essence taken away and replaced by a thin exterior with no passionate core."
Evidently, then, Pono is still going strong and remains undeterred by complaints that the music is too expensive and might not sound that good after all.
Read the full (very long) message below.
Pono is a labor of love.
Not just for me, for everyone in and around our small company, producing Ponomusic players and offering millions of Hi Res music files for well over a year now. At our core, manager Elliot Roberts, attorney Ricky Cohen, manufacturing head Phil Baker, and myself have done everything we know how to do to keep Pono alive. It has not been easy but we are doing what we love to do: making music sound GREAT.
We are a little company doing what only one giant corporation has been able to do before. And we are doing some things they have not done. We are serving Hi Res master files of your favorite music. We have an engaged and thriving online community. With no advertising we have put tens of thousands of players and hundreds of thousands of tracks in the ears of music lovers. We do this by working with many companies who help us to provide the quality we serve.
In addition to the recording companies themselves, we have eight business partners enabling us to deliver hi res proven provenance Pono music to our customers. WMG, SONY MUSIC, UMG, and the Independent record companies have provided us with their best quality product and continually upgrade their offerings to take advantage of Pono's great sound. Our PonoPlayer plays back all quality levels of digitally stored masters of your favorite music better than any other portable player.
Our eight great partners:
www.SalesForce.com (San Francisco California) provides our community platform, the only one of its kind in the world. That's where music lovers can talk to each other about all things music related as they browse our store at www.ponomusic.com. It's as close as we can make it to walking around a record store talking to fellow music lovers and listening to music – and we are on track to make it even better. We are proud to be associated with SalesForce as they continue to provide excellence and much needed support to Pono.
Ayre Acoustics' (Boulder Colorado) founded and led by Charlie Hansen, a world renowned acoustic design genius, allows us to deliver the best sounding portable music player on Earth, utilizing design concepts previously only found in audiophile systems costing tens of thousands of dollars. Ayre shares our mission to bring the best sounding music to the world and change the way people listen to music forever. Charlie Hansen himself is dedicated to this just like us, and has been for over twenty years.
PCH (Ireland/China), led by Liam Casey, a Pono music lover, manufactures our player and delivers it on time with an amazing failure rate of less than 3%.
Omniphone (London England) is our music file provider. That great company holds and delivers all the hi res files of our music lover's favorites.
EDL (Chicago Illinois) created our website. They maintain all of the moving parts of the site so music lovers can find their favorite Hi Res music at www.ponomusic.com.
Cloud Craze (Chicago Illinois) enables the commerce of www.Ponomusic.com, utilizing SalesForce technology so music lovers can use credit cards to buy their favorite music from Pono.
JRiver (Minneapolis Minnesota) is our delivery provider. Their technology allows you to move your music library, even your old files, to your ponoplayer so you can enjoy your www.Ponomusic on the greatest sounding high res player in the world, the player that makes everything sound as good as it can.
Semaphore Systems (San Francisco California) has done a wonderful job of designing the inside of our ponomusic player so it can be manufactured with its amazingly low failure rate.
No Company provides any lossy compression technology to make our master files smaller. All such systems failed our tests for sound quality. We maintain the integrity of the best original master recording available. Our sound is pure PONO.
Investors who support Pono with resources come partly from the music industry. Some are musicians, others are entrepreneurs who love music, and some are just good folk who love music and have the resources to support us. We have a few friends with resources from their successful businesses. These music loving friends have graciously supported us, and helped us to avoid some costly mistakes with their sage advice. We have only one Venture Capitalist behind us. We greatly appreciate all of these supporters, as well as our original Kickstarter supporters.
Many ideas have had great starts at Kickstarter and yet have been unable to form a working company and deliver. The real world is challenging. But Pono has done it. We have no proven business leader at the head of our company, but the search continues for one who could do it to our liking and understand what our goal is and how big it is. We are still looking. We have a big goal.
Today we are trying to set up stores in multiple countries and are restricted by a lack off resources. This is our highest priority. As soon as we have the funds, those stores will open. We wish it could be faster than that. Canada, Great Britain, and Germany are among our first targets. Our highest priority is to bring www.ponomusic.com to those countries and operate within their business rules.
Pono Customers are our life force. We want to spread Pono around the world and provide you all with music to fill your hearts and minds. This is the labor of love before us. We have learned it is not easy. Our supporting companies and individuals, listed above, have done an excellent job. This is a movement. And it is moving forward all the time. We have succeeded because we are all in this together.
Future Pono Customers will be the way we survive and flourish. We are at a delicate time now. We have been around for a while and still there is no one in our space yet. Our space is defined as quality throughout, from the source master music to the player itself, future products including speakers and headphones, and even more exciting breakthrough products built to bring music to its rightful place in the twenty first century.
Music history must be preserved. By making it possible to serve master quality to you, we are encouraging the record companies to provide the best they can. Our Ponomusic player plays it so well you can feel it and hear it. We provide your most loved music in master quality from www.ponomusic.com.
To enable our success, Pono gathers requests from our community for hi res master versions of music that may not yet be maximized in the way it is sold currently. Many CD quality master mixes can be traced back to higher quality levels, with more master mix detail available to be archived and distributed to music lovers. Pono is doing this work to preserve the history of recorded music in its highest form. We are helping and working with all of our record company friends all the time. We are restoring an art form. We do this through our community, who vote for their upgrade requests. We make the information available to music companies and artists so they can see where to start improving to please the music loving community that is finally speaking directly to them.
We strive to find or help create the highest quality level, either by searching through analog vaults with record companies and artists, or by tracking the historical provenance of existing digital releases, ensuring the highest quality available gets to the Pono Master library and further to the musical libraries spread around the world. This means that the music will always be heard at its highest level. Preserved for all time. Music is history and deserves nothing less.
This is truly worth it. This mission is worth it to all of the people who have stuck with Pono from the beginning as well as people who may not even be aware of it yet. People like us believe so much in our goal of saving music for the masses forever. We know our mission is the most important thing.
That is Pono.
The news is that music will be recovered, it will live again, free of the constraints of the low technology from the dark ages of music media.
The twenty first century world would be a better place if music sounded as good as it could. Musicians would create with the knowledge that people would hear and feel who they are, what they are in their being, what they are saying with and through their music, and why they are compelled to say it, as they have done since the human race began. Not some 21st century fake shallow Xerox facsimile, with all of the essence taken away and replaced by a thin exterior with no passionate core. That's not humanity, that's a cheap partial replication of it. And it won't do. And it won't do what music can do, it's just a noise, sometimes pleasant, sometimes less so.
We invite our fellow music lovers to get it all, feel the music, let the music change our minds and our bodies, our environments, our lives. We want all music lovers to share our community pages and provide their own insight into the story we are telling together to the world.
Why? Because music matters and sound matters. Not just any music or any sound. It needs to have all of its resonance, all of its echo, all of its soul and you can't get it from downgraded super compressed files which are so ubiquitous today. We know that music is not only good for the soul, but it is good for the body. It is the universal language and it needs to be heard completely. We do not want your music to be a shadow of what it once was. We want you to feel it and hear it like the giant it is. We want music to make your life better. It has been proven that music can change your DNA. Music is a life force. Not a commodity or just content to be driven to the lowest quality for convenience alone. We are bigger than that. Music is about the quality of life and the best sounding music changes your life, yes it changes your DNA, your outlook, your feelings about where you are in the world.
Music is love and Pono is music.
Thanks for listening