Neil Young plans to resurrect his currently dormant Pono brand and convert it into a streaming service.
Young’s Pono brand currently consists of a high-resolution listening device and a digital music store. The legendary artist launched Pono in January 2015, but was taken offline this July after its provider, Omnifone, went into administration and was purchased by 7digital. The digital music store is still offline, but Young hopes the new streaming service will resurrect the brand.
“We’re setting up right now partnerships for a Pono hi-res streaming service, and when we get our streaming service up we’re gonna re-emerge as a streaming service and a hi-res download offer,” Young said via the RS podcast. “That’s what we do, that’s our service: we provide the best that’s available, full-resolution music, great-sounding music, and we’re pushing towards getting our presence in phones and being able to be part of large partnerships that will enable us to be able to share the sound of hi-res and have people experience the sound of hi-res in music, like they have in television.”
Pono initially consisted of two million songs, each with lossless FLAC download capability. This allowed high quality downloads, but lead to frustrating delays and lengthy buffering times. The rebooted Pono will not use lossless compression methods, and will partner with a Singapore-based company to stream its catalog at varying levels of audio quality.
“We want to maintain our quality level when we go to streaming and I think we can,” Young said. “And if you have the bandwidth, you can get the full frequency, the full everything. If you don’t have the bandwidth, your app will show you what you’re missing… You’ll be able to move around and there won’t be any break in the music, but the resolution of the sound will change and you’ll be able to tell what happened when you look at your screen. And that will educate people as to the difference between hi-resolution music and regular streaming-level music.”
For years, Young withheld his entire personal catalogue from streaming services. In April, he reversed his stance, granting Tidal the right to stream his music. He later granted Spotify the same right.