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Thursday, July 16, 2015

Neil Young Just Says "No" To Streaming Services

Neil Young is not happy with the quality of music streaming services and will no longer allow his music to be streamed.

According to a post on his official Facebook page he writes:
“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.

This is not because of the money, although my share (like all other artists) was dramatically reduced by bad deals made without my consent.

When the quality is back, I’ll give it another look. Never say never.”
More on Neil Young's quest for the perfect echo.

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At 7/16/2015 10:10:00 AM, Blogger Johnny Bacardi said...

And yet, fortunately, it's still on Spotify as of this morning. Listening to Zuma as I type.

I'm all for sound quality but damn, Mr. Young sure doesn't like his working class fans at all.

At 7/16/2015 11:21:00 AM, Blogger Alex said...

Neil is right. It's not about screwing the "working class fans" he said it's out there in shitty quality and you can have it if you want it. He's trying to get the industry to have some fucking standards and preserve his work.

At 7/16/2015 11:26:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It really is beyond belief that no one in Neil's inner circle has had the guts to tell him he is wrong about this. They are letting him run straight over a cliff.

Of course, we all know that the act of putting on, say, a vinyl record can be a richer experience than clicking "play" on a spotify app. No argument from me there. The ritual of putting on a physical record helps boost enjoyment, and helps you connect with the music.

But as usual, Neil seems hell-bent on making it clear that what really matters is something very, very specific. The problem isn't streaming, he says: it's the resolution the audio is being streamed at.

Ah yes: the resolution. It's a huge red herring. A completely meaningless distraction from what really matters about recorded music. The truth is a simple blind test will quickly disprove the idea that 24/192 sounds any better than even a mid-quality audio stream. Case closed.

But placebo effect or not, what we now have is the sad situation in which people (including Neil) are obsessing over inaudible differences in audio quality; listening intently to resolutions instead of music; and presumably judging Chrome Dreams 2 to be a far better sounding album than Sleeps With Angels or Ragged Glory, because it was recorded at a much higher resolution.

Craziness, absolute craziness! It's taking people further and further away from what really matters, the music itself, and that's a great shame.

It's hard to blame Neil, who seems very sincere. But who else is there to blame: he's the one who keeps bringing this up, creating problems where there are none, whilst largely ignoring the real problems of today's music experience. He's been talking about this subject for years now. It's just disappointing that what he is saying is complete nonsense.


At 7/16/2015 11:27:00 AM, Blogger Johnny Bacardi said...

You can have it if you want it, unless you want to listen to it on a streaming service.

I've bought Mr. Young's music in many different formats over the years; I've owned, bought and paid for, several of his albums on LP, 8-track, CD, and cassette, many times the same album. But if I want to listen to it at work on Spotify, well, sorry, Dave, I'm concerned about my legacy, you'll have to wait till you go home! He can, of course, do what he wants but in my admittedly selfish point of view it's exasperating.

At 7/16/2015 11:35:00 AM, Blogger The Zuma Band said...

Spotify, Pandora, and now Apple...they're all rip off schemes. All the subscription money goes to the business side, mere scraps, if anything, to the artists. Noel Gallagher recently complained that his newest album had been streamed something like 11 million times, but he saw ZERO for it. There are plenty of "free" sources for the same thing, Youtube being an example. I think that's his point - you don't have to, and shouldn't have to pay for what he considers junk audio.

I have all the CDs and vinyl, though not such a great sound system. When I buy music I try to buy as directly as possible from the artist at a show, or through their label. Last resort is Amazon, and not for a download . Neil Young has always had the absolute best audio gear, so I'll never, ever be able to appreciate that level. But I also don't have the degree of hearing impairment that he has either - he does wear hearing aids, with good reason.

At 7/16/2015 11:36:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Alex: I presume Neil will also be removing all his work from itunes, as the resolution they use is also apparently also sub-standard. He'll also have to stop selling all those magnificent 90's records he only recorded at 44.1 resolution!

By that point, I imagine he will be selling less records than Rolf Harris: and almost all of them to people who are missing the point.

The whole thing has been a complete joke, and I'm afraid I have little sympathy left for people still burying there head's in the sand. No, streaming sites aren't perfect from an artistic point of view, or a business point of view. There are some real problems. None of those problems are to do with audio resolution/sound quality.


At 7/16/2015 12:36:00 PM, Blogger Jonathan said...

@flyingscotzman - wow....I haven't seen a post like yours in a can you be so absolutely 100% incorrect about a topic? Perhaps you need hearing aids or a vastly improved audio system....claiming that 24/192 audio is no better than an MP3 is stunningly ignorant....the dynamic range of each format can and has been plotted out in comparison charts in addition to real world audio analysis. Oh each his own.....I love high resolution audio....the DTS 5.1 surround sound mix that I have for Harvest is brilliantly clear as is every other album of Neil's I have in either that format or say the Blu-Ray of Treasure or Psychedelic Pill.....the regular CD's are a muddled mess in comparison.....ok rant over

At 7/16/2015 01:43:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My amazing mind-reading powers are telling me that Jonathan has never done a blind abx test between 24/192 and the same file downsampled to 16/44.1.

A Treasure wasn't even recorded in hi-resolution!

I don't object to the placebo effect, it definitely has it's place, but in this case it's just a distraction from what really matters.

I'm glad people are enjoying their music: my heart is only in arguing with people about this subject after they call me "stunningly ignorant".


At 7/16/2015 02:33:00 PM, Blogger redroxx said...

Neil's got a right to do this. First and foremost he's an artist. His "life's work" is just that - his. We are fortunate that he shares it with us to enjoy. He channels his muse and interprets it the way he feels it, and he then creates the best representation possible. That best representation is what he wants to sha

I can definitely tell the difference between the hi-res and hi-compression - for music that I am familiar with and have listened to many times. How? Because I have heard, and ingrained in my mind, nuances in the work that are lost in the compression. If I'm unfamiliar with the music and it's high compression, I can only assume that the artist wanted me to hear it that way - which is unlikely. Gimme a blind abx test (WTF?) with something I am unfamiliar with, and I won't know the difference.

Go back to the days of first developing CDs, and I guarantee the scientific testing prior to adoption was not "Yippee, 100% of the people can't tell the difference, roll 'em out boyz." It was more like "Yippee, we cut the cost of mass production, thereby increasing our profit per unit produced, and most people can't tell that there is a slight reduction in quality."

True art is nuance. Save the nuance, bumper stickers should be issued.

At 7/16/2015 04:58:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry, redroxx, I enhoyed your posts the other day, but the majority of the comment above is a load of pretentious nonsense, with no basis in reality. Try cutting back on the George Dickel.


At 7/16/2015 05:59:00 PM, Blogger Mr Henry said...

"All conditioned things are impermanent. Work out your own salvation with diligence."
--Buddha's last words

At 7/16/2015 06:20:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Don't forget to put the cat out."
--My wife

At 7/16/2015 06:23:00 PM, Blogger Will Cate said...

The quality of 128 KB streams are at least just as good as (and actually, usually better than) an FM radio broadcast, which, I presume, Neil does not (yet) have a problem with.

At 7/16/2015 08:17:00 PM, Blogger Marmooskapaul said...

My 40$ dollar head phones sound much better than the boom box I plug them into? that what we are talking about.


At 7/16/2015 08:35:00 PM, Blogger WeAllWantToBeHappy said...

Sometimes it's hard to love the man.

I know it doesn't mean as much to him to mean that much to me, and he can and does do whatever he wants (lucky him).

However, careful what you wish for. The BBC have, as a result, stopped playing him:

So I don't know where new fans will discover him if radio stations elsewhere feel obliged to do the same.

I have stuff I have bought on vinyl, cassette and CD. I still pay to see him live whenever he comes round.

Yes, high quality audio is nicer than lower quality. I'm sure we all agree.

But, really, streaming is about convenience and being able to instantly pick songs, or versions of songs, in the moment, often while we're doing something else at the same time.

I listen to him on Spotify for convenience.

And seriously, A Letter Home, do I need a 24/192 copy of this? Some great songs on there, and they still sound great DESPITE the audio quality, just like all the stuff on Spotify.

At 7/16/2015 10:21:00 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Hell, Neil can be "Old Neg". I'll come up with something else.

At 7/16/2015 10:32:00 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

This is all about promoting PONO.

At 7/16/2015 10:36:00 PM, Blogger Alex said...

He SHOULD take it down. Everyone should so we can force them to give us and the artists the real deal, audibly and financially. No one's saying Neil's music will be gone from streamming forever (under ideal circumstances). How about you try supporting Neil and things will work out better for everyone. Just chill. And presenting music at it's best quality DOES affect you whether you can understand it after years of shitty quality or not. Listen to Neil it's good for the soul.

At 7/16/2015 10:38:00 PM, Blogger Alex said...

It's really sad that so many people are on here giving Neil shit over this with such shortsighted amd self serving motivations. Neil fucking loves us so much and you won't even back him up on such a righteous pursuit.

At 7/16/2015 11:09:00 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Neil loves your wallet Alex. Don't kid yourself

At 7/16/2015 11:25:00 PM, Blogger Alex said...

He puts his money back into things he's passionate about, which tend to benefit others and/or set a good example to follow. I've no problem supporting someone who's coming with actual passion, craftmanship, and conscience.

At 7/17/2015 12:10:00 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

I'll tell you who loves you. Wilco loves you baby! New album dropped tonight for FREE and it's damn good too -

At 7/17/2015 02:10:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A lot of you are still missing the point.

If higher resolution audio actually sounded better, I'd be supporting it. We all would. But the truth is, it doesn't. There's no scientific evidence it's better (on the contrary, there is plenty that it's not). To date no one has been able to show in a blind test that they can hear the difference.

In fact, it's very easy to mislead people into thinking mp3 or 44.1 is actually 24/192, just by telling them it is!

So no, you don't need a 24/192 version of A Letter Home. Of course you don't. You don't need a 24/192 version of Zuma or Rust, either.

How strange is it that someone thinks A Treasure is "brilliantly clear" on blu-ray and a "muddled mess" on CD, when in fact it's the same audio! As Neil put it, he "didn't use good (resolution) in the first place". Thank God it doesn't matter.


At 7/17/2015 02:46:00 PM, Blogger Mr Henry said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 7/18/2015 04:16:00 PM, Blogger forest rph said...

I can't help but think Neil is discontinuing his Spotify service in order to sell his Pono player.
I bought a Blu ray disc player so I could enjoy the then highest quality available for his Archives. Now his latest album isn't available in Bluray, only Pono. I'm not going through another sound transition for the chance of a better listening experience.

At 7/18/2015 11:09:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love Neil but his position is inconsistent. He grew up on AM/FM radio and talks about how much he felt the music back then, but apparently high bit rate MP3 is not even worth listening to. What about the millions of people who have been hearing Neil's songs on the radio or in their car, in quality that is substandard to Neil's preference and yet find enjoyment in it? Most people don't even have high quality equipment that would allow them to hear any difference anyway.

And Tidal has a lossless streaming option, is NEIL gonna have his music on there so the plebians can listen to it?


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