Neil Young announced to his Facebook followers today that “Streaming has ended for me,” as the musician intends to pull his catalog from online services like Rdio and Spotify. “It’s not because of the money,” Young wrote. “It’s about sound quality.” A quick spot check at time of publication revealed that you can still listen to Young’s music on Spotify, Rdio, Pandora, and Apple Music for now, but only if you want to make Young weep at the aural murder of his art.
Young has been beating the audio-quality drum for some time. In January, he championed his new download service and music player called Pono, which supposedly offers studio-quality audio. Gizmodo’s Mario Aguilar pointed out that the “science” in Pono’s marketing doesn’t make sense, and tech commentator David Pogue conducted a double-blind test with a Pono and an iPhone to see if listeners gravitated toward the Pono’s superior sound; they did not. The results came as a blow to Pono’s customer(s).
Still, Young is fed up with the compressed audio offered by streaming services, which he regards as a sin unequaled in the annals of popular music. “I don’t need my music to be devalued by the worst quality in the history of broadcasting or any other form of distribution,” he wrote in his Facebook missive. “I don’t feel right allowing this to be sold to my fans. It’s bad for my music.” The remark implicitly encouraged fans to seek out superior, Neil Young-approved media from the past like audio cassettes and 8-track tapes. You are also presumably free to hear Young on AM/FM radio, too, as long as you are within 100 yards of the broadcast tower. Don’t rush out to buy Neil Young LPs, though, because earlier this year, Young sniffed that the recent resurgence of interest in vinyl is a mere “fashion statement.” Maybe Neil Young just doesn’t want people to listen to his music anymore.