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Monday, September 07, 2020

Amazon Deal & NYA: Neil Young Clarifies

In the latest A Message From Neil | NYA, Neil Young clarifies his recent statements on his arrangement with Amazon.

The response by Neil Young appears to be directly related to some of the musings made here on this blog where we questioned whether Neil was risking the "family jewels" (high resolution song files) in order to save NYA.

In response to a Comment of the Moment: Outtakes on Neil Young Archives by Lone Red Rider,  we responded:

We are curious as to your thoughts on the major Amazon Deal announcement on September 3. As we noted at the time of the impending news,  this appeared to be a somewhat typical Neil move, to totally diss on Big Tech's Google & FaceBook and then turnaround and throw all in with the behemoth monstrosity of Amazon corporation.

Big Tech is Big Tech. If Neil is doing a deal with AMZ to keep NYA going, that's a really tough compromise to swallow.  Risk the "family jewels" (high resolution song files) in order to save NYA? But maybe these new contractual label agreements that you cite in your comment above put all of this in a new light?

Regarding these concerns we expressed here on Thrasher's Wheat, Neil says: "Just wanted to clear up some thoughts I have read that are not really factual, although I can understand what folks might think."

Neil continues that -- first and foremost -- this is all about "the quality of the music presented at Amazon."

Next, Neil directly addresses our concerns about "risking the "family jewels" (high resolution song files) in order to save NYA."

A Message From Neil | NYA

Neil writes:

"2nd, don’t worry that any of Amazon’s dealings with me compromise ownership or control of my art in any way at all. That does not happen. With Amazon, the releases we give them to be introduced as ‘Amazon Originals’ are a three month exclusive and are all treated very well in the marketplace and get to the largest amount of people possible listening in the quality the music was made in. Some of you may not care about that, but we do care a lot about it.

“Quality whether you want it or not!” - L.A. Johnson.

Of course, this is a great relief to know that Neil has eyes/ears wide open in dealing with Jeff Bezos, his minions and Big Brother Tech Tyranny in their zeal to conquer and dominate yet another frontier of commerce and freedom.

Also, hearing that the Amazon initiative isn't being done to save NYA and to learn that the subscriber base and supporting team is solid is certainly nice to hear directly from The Man himself.

So live long and prosper NYA and crew!

"The Loner" Outtake
"Tuscaloosa" Album | NYA
 (Click photo to enlarge)

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At 9/07/2020 11:05:00 AM, Blogger wardo said...

"Quality whether you want it or not." Ever since the advent of the CD, Neil has always been focused on the best possible sound reproduction. If Amazon is able to deliver his "vision" (since we're talking about audio here) and distribute all the music he's got on tap faster and better, I'm all for it.

That said, maybe Neil could convince his buddy Jeff to take a small pay cut and provide health insurance for all of his employees -- or at least the ones in the warehouses earning the smallest paychecks.

But there I go being idealistic again.

At 9/07/2020 11:15:00 AM, Blogger thrasher said...

a bit of a postscript ...

oddly, we stumbled back across an old posting on TW from Aug 2010 that really strikes us as to the whole deja vu/synchronicity of neil thing.

as you may recall, back in 2010 there were the "Gigs for The Gulf" benefit concerts, a hunger relief effort the result of the long-standing friendship between Neil Young and John Tyson, chairman of Tyson Foods, Inc.

At the time, many rusties were truly outraged by the announcement because it smacked up against the Farm Aid values of anti-factory farms.

we here @ TW attempted to carve that middle path, where the altruistic benefits of helping those devastated by the BP oil holocaust outweighed any finger wagging accusations of hypocrisy.

Well the blowback on all of that as long timers of TW recall was truly a life altering event for us.

Well over 300 comments flooded into TW at such a volume that we resigned and quit TW once and for all.

As the news that TW was shutting down began to go global, no less than Archives Guy weighed in on the rusties gone wild thread. All of which led to the now famous "The Vista and The Muse" posting by Neil himself which sits framed in TW HQ.

Eventually, even Rolling Stone mag itself picked up the news, unbelievable to this day.

Well, you guys know the rest of the story. and here we are going on 25 years.

We mention all of this because, we encountered similar situations while backing Neil on his quixotic Don Quixote quest (Q3) to build the futuristic car of the future: LincVolt.

And similarly again with the Q3 to build the futuristic sound of the future: PONO.

so we conclude as we did back in 2010, replying to neil:

And amazing things will happen. It's just true.

As for us? Well, we’ve got our own row left to hoe.

We're trying to see the vista. We're trying to hear the muse. And we will continue.

peace and love,
thrasher & thrashette

At 9/07/2020 11:24:00 AM, Blogger thrasher said...

Thanks Wardo for being a dreamin man.
there few of us left our friend from the days that used to be.

hard to say.

frankly, our hunch is that Jeff B is playing with his rockets trying to get off of EARTH. good. send him into orbit.

still, thanks for thinking of those in AMZ warehouses and road warriors.

we do hear that conditions are pretty deplorable out there in the AMZ sweatshops.

we continue to be quite agonized here @ TW w/ our AMZ relationship and continue to dismantle links as we can. we do still retain the prominent header ad for ny's latest.

we've offered NYA the opp to swap out the header AMZ ad for a NYA link but that discussion has gone nowhere since Elliot passed.

well, like we try and say 1000's of times each and every day:
"(Please shop locally & independently. But if you can't, we appreciate your supporting Thrasher's Wheat by clicking this link. Thank you!!!)"

At 9/07/2020 12:55:00 PM, Blogger Dan Swan said...

There are obviously many elements responsible for what I’ve come to see as a global knee jerk phenomenon. Many of us seem to react far too quickly to almost everything these days. It appears there is an unspoken requirement to immediately assume the worst, even before all the facts are known.

Is it possible that we have been conditioned by technology, that we resist our own ability to discern information? Has our polarized culture influenced our natural ability for independent thought? Neil made it very clear from the start that he was allowing his music to be offered on Amazon because they had decided to go with the highest sound resolution possible. Nowhere did he insinuate Amazon was to be involved in any way with NYA. But many made that assumption for themselves. Why?

When certain information is released in the media that may not fit with what certain people believe, they simply call it a hoax or fake news. This argument doesn’t respond directly to the information, it simply dismiss’s the information. It reminds me of grade school when the preferred response to conflicting information on the school yard was.... “oh yea?”.

I was a tad bit disappointed that folks here on Thrashers made such assumptions about Neil and Amazon. Did they not read the information on NYA all the way through? I felt he was quite clear about his intentions and his reasoning for his music, so why all the fuss? Perhaps we all need to slow down and breathe. The human race has become far too distracted for its own good.

Peace 🙏

At 9/07/2020 01:11:00 PM, Blogger Abner Snopes said...

try to exist in this culture and not be flummoxed by contradictions...

At 9/07/2020 03:06:00 PM, Blogger Roberto said...

Just a simple Q: will HD music be available worlwide? I mean also to non US Citizen?

At 9/07/2020 06:13:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

@ Dan - we do hear you very clearly regarding knee jerk reactions.

This has been something that we've been guilty of in the past and do ask forgiveness.

Since the meltdown debacle of 2010, we have really tried hard to take all of this more in stride by not trying not to engage with comments. But after we were suspended from FB, the volume of comments has dropped significantly. However the quality of comments went up.

thanks to you and other regulars like Meta Rocker or Abner, less chaff, more wheat.

Likewise, we know we've gotten quite defensive at times about our research or the substance free ad hominem attacks on neil. again, we've tried to do much better over the years.

in fact, part of our re-engagement here w/ TW readers has been inspired by neil's handling of Letters to Editor. We know what a job it is to respond to all sorts of queries and observations. it can be a job in and of itself. we see neil handle all of this correspondence w/ aplomb and a light & loving touch. never too harsh.

so we strive to improve our responses here as well. we try.

Slowing down and breathing is always good advice.

so, all apologies to neil & the entire NYA crew for our misunderstanding here and cautionary words.

as Meta Rocker would say: "Om-Shanti"

@ Abner - thanks. some more good advice.

@ Roberto - presumably if you're eligible for AMZ Prime, then yes.

At 9/07/2020 06:39:00 PM, Blogger Dan Swan said...

@ Thrashers: You have done a wonderful job of holding a space for everyone here to share their thoughts, and let’s face it, we all have our moments. Being passionate about things will always result in the occasional lapse of judgment. I’m as guilty of this as anyone. We are all doing our best with the tools we’ve been given, or those we have chosen. Thank you for your dedication.

Peace, love, and understanding 🙏

At 9/08/2020 06:43:00 PM, Blogger The Metamorphic Rocker said...

@thrasher, I tried to comment before, but it vanished in the cyber-haze.

As to NYA-AMZ: tempest in teapot. I have a saying: “Amazon is a sometimes food” (like cookies), but it was clear to me that AMZ was not going to subsume or monopolize the NY listening experience. It’s another option, and a relatively inexpensive one, to bring hi-fi sound (which Neil clearly values highly) to a wider marketplace, even as the goods continue to be available through the usual channels. Now, I personally don’t have the kind of playback equipment to justify super high quality audio at cost, and I believe the listening experience is at least partly in the ear of the beholder rather than mastering or playback specs—a philosophical view I trust NY and other audiophiles won’t take as a personal or artistic slight. And at least this delivery method, instantaneous streaming, doesn’t rely directly on sweatshop labor along the supply line.

On the other hand, I suspect most of us utilize Amazon too often to indulge in sanctimonious chastisement. Given we are all human beings, are we holding NY to a higher standard than ourselves? If so, why? And is it fair?

I echo Dan’s concerns about the frenetic, dangerously distracted society we have built. Even more than that, I worry about the seemingly restless human capacity for sorting everyone, and everything, into Good and Bad. With these thought patterns, how can one _not_ have a volatile, paranoid, even schizophrenic worldview? If you believe half the world is out to get you at any given time, of course you will be constantly, fearfully on the lookout to differentiate those who are “with” you from everyone else who is “against” you.

The way out of this is to approach every person as—potentially, until they show otherwise—a friend. This doesn’t mean forsaking common sense precautions or critical thinking. It just means believing that we all are more the same than we are different. And paradoxically, one of the things we can all share in common is that we each are different, in some ways, from one another. Either we’ve all got soul, including Richard Nixon, Bezos, and others who may have forgotten or don’t care how to commune with it, or none of us have got it. If you believe otherwise, it will be difficult to get away from a life of divide and conquer founded on fear and anger pitted against the “other”.


At 9/09/2020 09:40:00 AM, Blogger thrasher said...

@ Meta Rocker - again, many thanks for sharing here on the "tempest in teapot."

we do try. and we do try to learn from our mistakes.

certainly, the irony is not lost on us. ain't nothing like a friend who can tell you your just pissin in the wind.

anyway, yes, we've been espousing beware the divide & conquer tactic. Simultaneously, we failed to recognize that questioning the AMZ-NYA deal as fomenting just such sentiment. In hindsight, yes, it probably did seem that way. And even caused neil to directly answer our questions and concerns.

we know more now than we did then.

So in a way, this turned out good. Neil has categorically stated that AMZ will never control the "family jewels" (high resolution song files).

and that's really all we needed to understand from this latest episode.

clearly, it is all about locking up IP - patents, copyrights, designs, trademarks, formulas, etc. and that's where Big Tech comes in.

neil has been very wise to retain all ownership of his creativity which is why he's able to do NYA in the 1st place. Not sure Bob could even do such a thing given his contractual arrangements?

we are quite intrigued by the contractual releases which neil appears to be making allowing him freedom to create & distribute.

can you imagine a world where are artists are unchained from commercial shackles?

that'll be a big shift indeed. great to see neil leading the way so that other artists can see the path to creative freedom.


At 9/09/2020 11:48:00 AM, Blogger The Metamorphic Rocker said...

@thrasher, My comments on re: "tempest in a teapot" weren't intended as personal criticism of you or the blog, in case it may have come across that way.

The due diligence and full reporting is much appreciated. Knowing is better than not knowing, certainly where NYA is concerned. The deal with AMZ is an idiosyncratic, Neil-ish move to be sure. One I didn't see coming. Yet, as I said, I think it shows the degree to which he values high fidelity sound.

Amazon, for their part, probably see another niche market to exploit, and also that streaming is seemingly the way of the future for music consumption. Any opportunity to get in on the action ahead of their competitors can't hurt them, especially as I can't imagine it's costing them much if anything. If it weren't cost effective for them, I very much doubt this would happen, even if Jeff Bezos himself were the world's most ardent audiophile. Amazon wants a large piece of every potentially profitable pie on the market, and that'll be what's behind this deal. I have no delusions there.


At 9/09/2020 01:08:00 PM, Blogger Abner Snopes said...

Interesting and helpful. Meta-rocker, shaken and disgusted by all the distraction of this culture, the tenuous hold we have on reality, my own approach is to come at everything and everyone in a constructive manner. how can I help out? what can I do to help you? what is the best thing we can do here? So basic, but it has really been good for my state of mind and others around me (I think). and then, as Kant said, I show my "crooked timber" with "hate" for Trump. I see Trump signs in yards and want to rip them out and trash them.

This is the only website I have ever posted comments. I visit it now just about every day. Thrasher is excellent in curating this site and taking care of the disparate voices.

At 9/09/2020 05:01:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

@ Meta Rocker - no worries, of course.

all in our efforts of transparency and full disclosure -- all to the greater good.

regarding Bezos & AMZ and Apple and Steve Jobs. One can only imagine if Jobs were still around, digital music might be in a diff place. a better place.

stream is the dream where the music never stops, the notes never die, & the road goes on forever.

@Abner - humbled and truly appreciated.


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