Topical items and views on the impact of digitisation on publishing and its content and the issues that make the news. This blog follows the report 'Brave New World',
(http://www.ewidgetsonline.com/vcil/bravenewworld.html ), published by the Booksellers Association of the UK and Ireland and authored by Martyn Daniels. The views and comments expressed are those of the author.
Monday, February 04, 2013
Pono: Rock and Roll Can Never Die
Neil Young, the musician, is now 67
and has lived through the last half century of changing music scenes, business
models, formats and even channels. From his early Ontario days, through his first
real break in Buffalo Springfield, then the super group era with CSN & Y, his
unplugged music foray, his ‘other band’ and favourite Crazy Horse, his anti war
protests, collaborations with the likes of Devo, his place at birth of grunge
and his two time induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Young has never
followed an easy path.
So why, after all these adventures has
he decided to take $500K of venture capital money to popularize his dream of high-fidelity
digital music and can it work?
In his own words, he was driven by
the desire to offer better quality music, ‘I’m walking down the street, and I
see some beautiful girl walking along, … she’s got these white things coming
out of her ears ... And I’m going, ‘That poor girl. She’s listening to real
crap. It’s so easy to fix that,’ and I put together a team of people and we
Young is now listed as CEO of Ivanhoe
Inc., a Santa Monica based company that last July got clearance from the
U.S. Patent and Trademark office in connection with online music distribution.
They plan to launch ‘Pono’ as a higher-quality alternative to today’s ubiquitous
MP3 format. Pono, pronounced ‘poh-know,’ and is Hawaiian for ‘righteous.’
But can the bland MP3’s hold onto
digital music, or can its stranglehold be broken buy Pono?
Young is not the first musician to scorn
on the quality of the music being downloaded and streamed by services such as iTunes
and Spotify, but he is the first to stand up and attempt to change it and is ‘trying
like hell to rescue recorded sound so people can feel music again.’
However, Pono faces some massive
barriers and today as many will opt for a ‘its good enough’ approach, as opposed
to potentially a further investment and in the short term having to carry two devices. The change may be just too much and could potentially impact audio
tuners, audio receivers, amplifiers, tape players, compact disc players, MP3
controllers/players, audio mixers, audio speakers in the nature of music studio
monitors, microphones, audio speakers, compact discs, audio tapes, portable
computers, antennas, phonographic record players, audio recording equipment.
Well it doesn’t touch much then!
The one thing that is in Pono’s
favour is that most music is recorded and stored at high quality, although
it may not be right for consumers today, the format is better for mixing, which means
that there is a wealth of material out there ready to be adapted. It is at a higher bit
rate and sampling frequency and therefore should sound a lot better and
have more range than even CDs. It also has not been exposed to the pirate and low
resolution copies. However, the big challenge is not the music but winning over
the consumers as it will be harder to stream to mobile devices and will not work
with today’s smartphone.
However, Neil Young may yet go
down as the musician that reversed the tide of mediocrity.
Hey hey, my my
Rock and roll can never die
There's more to the picture
Than meets the eye.
Hey hey, my my.
‘My My Hey Hey (Out of the Blue)’ from ‘Rust Never
Sleeps’ Neil Young