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Thursday, March 11, 2021

Comment of the Moment: New Neil Young Archives Membership Tiers: Rust & Patron

Neil On Demand!


As always, much excitement amongst the rusties over all the Neil Young news happenings.

On Tuesday, Neil Young announced the long expected introduction of "Tiered Memberships" to NYA.  In addition to the current "Classic" membership, two new membership tiers have been added: Rust & Patron. (See NYA background and details.)  


So, without further ado, we bring you our TW Comment of the Moment  Month:  MAJOR NEIL YOUNG ANNOUNCEMENT - New NYA Membership Tiers: Rust & Patron by the "Inextinguishable Scotsman":

Yes! It's true.

The NYA website, contrary to my doom-and-gloom early predictions, is indeed showing signs of flourishing.

(...and the app actually now works on my phone, sort of.)

I've been actively rallying in favour of a more extensive "concert archive" at NYA for more than 2 years. And I am delighted to see it coming to life.

But NYA (with cheap prices, very limited "exclusive content" and ridiculous expenses) has also struggled to make a profit; a problem even for a shrewd fellow like Neil who has reportedly just pocketed $150,000,000.

So here's a typically-messy compilation of my thoughts, still relevant (I think) as we move forward into 2021. Take 'em or leave 'em.

The goal, of course, is to make a profit. Because as Zig Ziglar said, "you can do a lot more with profit than you can with loss". A profit can be re-invested in the project (or spent on a new swimming pool or vintage car).

And so the secret to the success of an archive project like NYA is to a) increase prices to make it profitable and b) make it obviously well worth the cost, from the target audience's perspective.

Record companies, greedy as they often are, are unsurprisingly enthusiastic about the first point but conveniently ignore the second.

And so people lose interest....the word stops spreading.

People like you and I start to give up, stop visiting.

And the project starts to die.

But if NYA keep *both* points in mind, then they have a real chance of succeeding.

Neil Young, of course, has *too much* great music to release to a conventional schedule. Neil could live to 200 (you'd be a fool to bet against it), and he'd still be discovering new concert tapes in his archive.

("Oh look, a tape of the Mountain House gig from 1990: it somehow fell down the back of the mixing desk for 150 years!")

And the NYA website is the perfect place to (gradually) put all the stuff that doesn't really have a place anywhere else.

Demos, outtakes, videos, live recordings, name it. A treasure chest of gems, misfits, rarities and curiosities. That's what an archive is all about, isn't it?

And over time, it all adds up. It becomes such a remarkable and comprehensive resource that a true fan can't possibly ignore it. And that's what the target should be.

I think a gradual roll-out makes more sense than the short-lived strategy of dumping everything on the site at once. Keep the tension mounting. Neil's most captivating lead-guitar performances build up to boiling point: the same philosophy should apply to NYA.

Surprises have impact. A regular schedule is important and gets the audience into the habit of visiting, but it also becomes taken for granted. Shake things up, sometimes, to keep the audience on their toes.

Record companies are SLOW and need to make announcements months in advance. NYA can act more swiftly, and should.

More suggestions?

Fire off a few cannons, first. An extraordinary show added to the concert timeline (with accompanying notes to give some fascinating context) will generate more benefit (via positive word-of-mouth) than paying for advertising.

The prototype concert additions back in November kind of went under the radar, but they were a leap in the right direction.

Include an allocation of download tickets for premium subscribers. The record company will HATE this idea: that's because they are still imprisoned in 1976 and arrogantly believe they are still owed a living.

Yes, the greedy scoundrels want to extract every last penny from our cold, dead hands. They want us to buy everything multiple times, and (fools that we are), we obligingly line up and bend over.

But of course, we aren't that stupid. We're not cold and dead. We're vividly alive, and we're not going to take any bullsh!t from a dying industry trying to rip us off.
There are plenty of other worthwhile causes to spend our money on, instead.

My point: including some "free" downloads just might be a major selling point for a fanbase which still likes to actually "own" music (rather than just rent it). And it discourages people from seeking out ways to download unofficially.

...People will download regardless of whether you "allow" them to or not! The old-skool music industry failed to learn that lesson 20 years ago, tried to fight it, and was mortally wounded as a result. So you might as well make it a selling point, instead.

Yet more suggestions:

Make every page easy to share a link to, online. No, neither you nor I use social media. But lots of people do. Why not make it easy for them to spread the word?

Or do the opposite: make it SO jumbled and messy and impenetrable and chaotic that it feels like a REAL archive. It all depends what the goal is. Do you care about reaching a sustainable audience or not? Don't answer too hastily.

Some fans, of course, are naturally more connected than others. If I knew someone who ran the foremost Neil Young internet blog (not to name any names) that helps spread the word across the planet, then I'd consider giving that person a complimentary membership. For obvious reasons.

And what about me: the inflammable, pompous Scotsman? Will I myself be becoming a patron?

Of course not! I'm a professional, not a bloody "patron". And I've contributed more of value in the last few paragraphs than some folks actually on the Warner payroll.

But I will be satisfied to settle for a complimentary upgrade to my membership: NYA knows how to reach me on line 1.

The key to success for this website?

Make it a bargain.

...Note that I *didn't* say "make it cheap"!

On the contrary, I'm entirely in favour of a higher price. But make it worth it. Blow us away with that live show from Rotterdam 1989, and then Concord 1993, and then Cal Expo 1996 (or whatever). Release things often and without too much warning, jolting us out of our routine-induced stupor.

No matter how costly the subscription, NYA should make the customer think "WOW! I really got a good deal there. This is an incredible resource. Now, I'm having so much fun I must rave about this to my friends..."

That's how the word spreads.

(NYA Vol 2 gave us something to talk about, alright: the Greedy Hand marketing was so contemptuous I spent two weeks telling everybody I know that I'd never buy a Neil Young box set ever again. So it works both ways.)

Easier said than done? Yes, of course. Especially with a record company that might well be pressing for the stingiest approach possible.

But you don't make waves by playing it safe - Neil knows that better than any of us.

Don't get me wrong! NYA shouldn't fire every bullet it has at once. Far from it. But it does need to come out firing...on a frequent, sustainable basis.

If it does, I think people will quickly start to notice that yes, this is an exciting project and yes, it really is worth paying extra for.

In the meantime, though, I'm looking forward to seeing what happens. Lots of potential, here.


PS - Following on from one point above:

Thrasher probably doesn't get enough credit for maintaining this blog, hosting the discussion, and generally promoting Neil's work (year after year).

Musicians sometimes have a mixed relationship with their fanbase. Do they want the attention or not? You can understand why "both" would be a popular answer.

But without fans like Thrasher spreading the word, it's safe to say that even a monumental artist like Neil wouldn't have much of a fanbase in today's harsh musical climate.

So many great points here "Inextinguishable Scotsman"!  When you come up out of hibernation you really mean it.  Must be the Spring weather. :)

Agree that there are many angles at play here.  Artist's vision. Fan satisfaction.  Business, expenses and revenue. ART+ COMMERCE (hey Abner!)

And we do thank you for acknowledging the role TW has played in the history of NYA going back to those "Archives Guy" days.  It has been our pleasure and honor of a lifetime to share this stage.  As you well know, we wouldn't buy, sell, borrow or trade anything, we'd rather start all over again.

We noticed this news was sort of a big deal in the Bob Dylan world over on Expecting Rain. (Thanks Harold!)  While we really do try not to elevate -- or reduce -- every discussion into the Bob & Neil framework -- yet again -- we are compelled to point out the connections.


Bob will head off in a direction and eventually Neil learns, follows and improves.  (We've been through this a thousand times before.)  Where once Bob was light years ahead of Neil in curating his Archives, now suddenly, Neil is leader of the pack with his "Cutting Edge File Cabinet Technology".




These times are unprecedented in music history and we're so lucky to be alive to be part of this roll out.  As noted here previously, the Neil Young Archives are -- unquestionably -- a quirky quixotic quest unprecedented in the entire history of commercial music.

The Neil Young Archives represent a towering achievement which no other artist in history has accomplished by building a fully interactive archive of all media types into a single simple interface, while cost effectively (via the internet) reaching every audience on EARTH.


We're enjoying NYA and feel so blessed to be a part of the rustie community! Thank you and we love & miss you all. All together very soon.

Bucket Envy @ TW HQ - March 2021

Labels: , ,


At 3/11/2021 12:05:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

Please note, several excellent replies to Scotsman's comment on original thread by @Aer & @Hambone. See
MAJOR NEIL YOUNG ANNOUNCEMENT - New NYA Membership Tiers: Rust & Patron

At 3/11/2021 01:00:00 PM, Blogger Dan Swan said...

My only suggestion is for our intrepid Scotsman should COPY his post (all of them together) and go to NYA and PASTE it to LETTERS TO THE EDITOR, and HIT SUBMIT. I love his enthusiasm and his ideas are all great.

I happily upgraded to PATRON and just explored the MOVIETONE page, and was I blown away by the incredible selections. I also intend to rent each and every single Bridge School Concert as they are made available. What a wonderful way to support such an important organization. I could never afford to attend any of these shows, but now I can help the school, and witness the events at the same time, in the comfort of my own home. Neil is really pulling out everything anyone could want, and so much more coming. The flood gates have been officially open, so let it flow its natural course and fill our hearts with the joy that is Neil Young.

Ring the bells, raise the flags, and spread the word, for the vault is beginning to avail its self to all who choose to see and hear.


At 3/11/2021 02:30:00 PM, Blogger Phil said...

I'm also really excited by the new tiers. I've upgraded my subcription up to "Rust" as I don't have a clear view about Patron one.

About the Bridge, I support the idea to pay the access but I think the price is a little bit too expensive and, moreover, the 24h availability is too short. Especially if you want to watch other sets than the NY one...

Anyway, yesterday, I watched the show webcast in Santa Barbara in 2018 with POTR. With a 23' Like An Inca... So nice.

At 3/11/2021 03:40:00 PM, Blogger The Metamorphic Rocker said...

I'm so pleased to read/hear (in my mind) Scotsman's distinctive voice again... his contributions never fail to raise the level of discourse and have been much-missed in his absence.

The good news: my NYA#2 box (mass market/retail edition) surprisingly arrived today, ahead of schedule. And the benefit of doing business from home is, I don't have to wait as long to start enjoying the music. Some may be surprised to read that my first stop was Homegrown, but I'd never had a physical copy up to now. Last June, lockdown made the hi-res Amazon download the simpler, safer option. Even though this is CD and not blu-ray, the improvement from mp3 quality is revelatory on my good set up: we got a new sound system as an Xmas gift, which I'm now seriously benefiting from.

It's a 5.1 setup, so it does artificially redistribute the stereo NYA mixes in interesting ways, but hearing Florida in surround is a new, otherworldly experience--you can actually hear Ben Keith's fingers tracing that wineglass! Next stop is expanded Roxy (+Losing End) before jump into the truly new material. Looking forward to Everybody's Alone (TfA cuts in pristine sound) and Old Homestead in particular, plus Walk On, which is effectively an expanded OtB.

Am I right in saying Last Dance is the only TFA song not represented either here or on Vol 1? Are there later live recordings of this cut that might surface in future NYA volumes? Bummer, but there's so much here it's hard to complain. The box itself looks beautiful to me in this form... for the multi-media aspect of NYA, I think online was the right idea all along and the box sets should always have been done like this for the mass market. The formatting and presentation is cleaned up a bit from volume one: no more bonus "hidden" tracks, etc, and looks nice. The poster is just as impressive as vol 1's and makes me nostalgic.

As far as NYA online goes, I'm still finding it more fiscally responsible to invest in periodic physical releases than pay a regular subscription... I hope this will change at some point on my end, but even though NYA's standard monthly rate is very good, if I'd been subscribed since the beginning, I'd have spent a lot more on it by now than I have on individual releases, and I don't know that it would be easy to fully enjoy the audio quality on my current equipment. Vinyl is beautiful, but until I have a very, very good turntable--as opposed to the merely acceptable setup I'm working with right now--I don't know that I can justify the cost of new pressings, tempting as Young Shakespeare will be!

That being said, I'm now inspired to revisiting my NYA# blu-ray on the good sound system. Massey Hall will be a valuable reference point for YS and I haven't watched some of those video clips in a while.

Looking forward,

At 3/11/2021 03:45:00 PM, Blogger Dionys said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 3/11/2021 05:40:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

@ Dan Swan - ha, good suggestion!
Seriously, our intrepid Scotsman does know how to make up for lost time. And we say that with the best intentions.

Congrats on upgrade. We haven't actually really had the time to absorb, ponder and act on these options as of yet. But will definitely go to Rust level for starters.

Your points on Patron level are really very worthy. By which we say that your spirit captures the Big Picture of what NYA is all about.

While having lots of treats for rusties for decades to come is obviously 1st priority, how NYA demonstrates a way ahead in the changing landscape really needs further discussion.

We would like to hear from others on NYA's Big Picture vision.

@ Phil - right, 24 hour window is too short for ~6+ hours.

@ Meta Rocker - great news! The 5.1 setup sounds sweet.

Good question on Last Dance. Not sure, but we think you're correct.

Looking forward to more reports!


At 3/11/2021 11:18:00 PM, Blogger tomatron said...

The upgrade to 24/96 is nice for the Timeline Concert of the Week (a show which was previously available whenever you wanted to click on it, ha) but is anyone else having trouble getting the whole show to play? I still couldn’t get any play through Chrome, so I switched over to Edge and playback of tracks is now functional. But with this concert, the last six songs are cut off; the file ends with a skipping error at just over 2 hours. Glitch City, NYA!

At 3/12/2021 10:36:00 AM, Blogger Dan Swan said...

Thrashers Wheat has a large number of people who bring incredible knowledge of the Neil universe here. This is one of the things that keeps me coming back everyday. That and the informative articles and updates provided by Thrashers. This is a remarkable blog and I’m glad to be a small part of it.

Peace 🙏

At 3/13/2021 08:48:00 AM, Blogger ANDREW BYROM said...

Not sure if I have missed this being reported but the Timeline concerts are now in full 24/96 resolution. Previously these were crappy 320kbs mp3’s. Very happy with this upgrade. not sure if this is the same across all tiers (I went for Patron).


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