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Neil Young to pull his music from music streaming services

The musician and founder of high-definition music seller PonoMusic said streaming services don't meet his bar for sound quality.

Ty Pendlebury Editor
Ty Pendlebury is a journalism graduate of RMIT Melbourne, and has worked at CNET since 2006. He lives in New York City where he writes about streaming and home audio.
Expertise Ty has worked for radio, print, and online publications, and has been writing about home entertainment since 2004. He majored in Cinema Studies when studying at RMIT. He is an avid record collector and streaming music enthusiast. Credentials
  • Ty was nominated for Best New Journalist at the Australian IT Journalism awards, but he has only ever won one thing. As a youth, he was awarded a free session for the photography studio at a local supermarket.
Ty Pendlebury
2 min read

Neil Young's PonoMusic download store Screenshot by Ty Pendlebury/CNET

Don't go looking for Neil Young's music on Spotify or Tidal. The musician on Wednesday told his Facebook followers he plans to pull his catalog from streaming services because they don't meet his bar for sound quality.

Young is the latest musician to complain about streaming music services, although not for the usual reasons. Others, including Pink Floyd, Radiohead's Thom Yorke and most notably Taylor Swift have taken issue with the way streaming services compensate musicians. In November, Swift pulled her entire catalog of music off Spotify, saying she didn't want her life's work to contribute to a business model that doesn't fairly compensate writers, producers, artists and other music creators.

Young, however insists compensation didn't factor into his decision.

"It's not because of the money, although my share (like all the other artists) was dramatically reduced by bad deals made without my consent," Young wrote. "It's about sound quality. 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."

Young founded download music store PonoMusic, which lets customers buy high-definition copies of his and other artists' albums at prices starting at $15.

Sound quality among the different streaming services varies widely, from 128kbps (Pandora) to 320kbps (Spotify) all the way up to lossless 1,411 kbps (Tidal). Many albums on PonoMusic are actually the same quality as Tidal's (lossless 16-bit/44kHz).

In the past Young's main concerns have centered on "lossy" MP3 files, convincing him to make the high-definition PonoPlayer.

Young says that he will consider reversing his decision "when the quality is back." That could mean he's waiting for a high-res streaming service, which Tidal has hinted at in the past. Hans-Holger Albrecht, CEO of German streaming service Deezer, told CNET there isn't enough high-res music to support a viable business model.

Young didn't say when his music will actually disappear from streaming services.

Representatives for PonoMusic and Neil Young did not reply immediately for a request for comment.