Neil Young’s Lonely Quest to Save Music


yyzsantabarbara
I would have to agree with Neil, at least from my point of view, probably the reason that I haven't embraced streaming in general. This opinion is one of a 68 year old that grew up with and still embraces vinyl as my primary source of music when I want to listen to music not just have it on in the background. But what does Neil and I know? Enjoy the music
As Tim Cook, the head of Apple, recently told a reporter, without any evident trace of humor, “We worry that the humanity is being drained out of music.”

That is the first positive statement from Apple regarding their destruction of music quality.
@tooblue For me, streaming is great on Tidal and Qobuz. The enjoyment factor is unparalleled compared to other mediums. I am including things like sound quality, convenience, discovery, and even online community (though I miss going to record stores).

However, lo-fi streaming is nails on a blackboard. Get rid of the lo-fi and watch things improve.

BTW - I am a Silicon Valley type that was in the Valley when Apple was coming out with iTunes. I was railing against it then but no one cared. Maybe people are starting to care now. outside of the people on A’Gon.

Steve Jobs, Cook’s predecessor, was also a big music fan. “He listened to vinyl in his living room because he could hear real music,” Young told me. “ And he loved music.” When I ask if he ever spoke directly to Jobs about turning Apple’s iTunes into a platform for music that didn’t sound bad, Young nodded.

“Oh, yeah,” he answered. “He said, ‘Send us your masters and I’ll have my guys do what they can with them to make them sound great.’ I said, ‘Well, that’s impossible, your iPod won’t play anything back.’ ”

Jobs disagreed. “He said, ‘Well, our guys can make it so that your music can play back through it.’ And you know he was right,” Young said. “It does play back, and you can recognize it.” He pauses. “But it’s not my music.”

When Jobs’s biographer asked him about Young’s offer, as related in the biography “Becoming Steve Jobs,” Jobs snapped, “[Expletive] Neil Young.”


I agree with Neil as well.  Low quality streaming is like eating heavily processed food - it's not really food - it's food-like substances.
One reason I have never really used Spotify even though it has a huge database.
The SQ is way below Qobuz hires service, as it should be though at $25 a month ... Lol.

My daughter must have 15,000 songs on her iPad and all it takes up is a few GB, I cannot even listen to it!
Spotify does a nice job of building playlists, better than Tidal, and Qobuz doesn't really offer anything customized to your listening habits.  I listen to it in the car. 

I don't have a killer car stereo and it's fine there.  I also listen to Pandora as background or workout music. 

I'm glad that there are services like Tidal and Qobuz for when I want to do some serious listening.

I wonder how good Neil's hearing is now at 73 after spending most of his life on stage.  Not that you need to have golden ears to notice some of the things he's lamenting, like compression.
I admit I do use Pandora and have done for years but just when travelling and playback through my laptop in the hotel.

Built up some killer stations over the years, something that I agree neither Tidal or Qobuz seem to got a handle on yet.

I usually stream Qobuz from my phone to any rental car I have via Bluetooth and it's fine in the car which is always background music tbh.

At home it is nearly always Qobuz hirez.
At home I listen to Qobuz more than anything else, unless I can't find something, then I go to Tidal.  I can use it in my car too, but Spotify is a little more user friendly.  It's integrated with Waze, which I use all the time and it's also on the touch screen panel on the Kenwood music player in my truck.
I saw Neil Young and the old members of Buffalo Springfield play at the Bridge School Benefit a few years ago. He was still married to his ex so must have been 5 years ago. I think Pearl Jam also played with Neil that day (or year before).  Anyways, Young was still an excellent performer back then.




As Tim Cook, the head of Apple, recently told a reporter, without any evident trace of humor, “We worry that the humanity is being drained out of music.”

That is the first positive statement from Apple regarding their destruction of music quality.


I would not get my hopes up. The dystopian reality of Silicon Valley is they have decided that whenever their hoped for fantasies fail in the real world its easier to write programs to keep people from learning about it than to actually figure out how to do it right.
Question- does/did Neil Young get it right with his Ponomusic system? The weak link is still the back end of that system for most average music consumers, no?
I get fantastic SQ from Spotify premium on my setup, and it's all at there at your fingertips from the comfort of your favourite chair. 

I have spent a fair bit of effort fettling the  system.
“We worry that the humanity is being drained out of music.”

Stream quality notwithstanding, this also could be a comment on the fact that fewer and fewer humans are actually involved in the creation of music.
jnorris2005
... this also could be a comment on the fact that fewer and fewer humans are actually involved in the creation of music.
On what do you base this "fact?" It seems to me that more people than ever are making music, often taking advantage of technology that simplifies creating it and recording it.
I agree Cleeds. Streaming and services like Spotify means we are entering a golden age of published music.

 I can listen to musicians from the world over the barriers to entry for unsigned acts to have people access their music are incredibly low. 

Maybe Neil is just rattled by suddenly facing competition from 10s of thousands of talented musicians for the public's ear time. Of course streaming also increases access to even established acts and music from generations past even.

Since I started streaming I'm now listening to material recorded 20 , 30, years before I was born. Some spectacular stuff that never plays on the radio channels I use in the car. Previously everyone's frame of reference used to be what records , tapes , cds friends and family played and that can be very narrow sub set of what you can find on streaming services. I'm enjoying music from my youth , young adult life , all the fabulous modern signed acts and some great stuff from the 50s 60s and 70s and I'm appreciating world music too.... 

All this with good sound quality for £10 a month , how lucky we are.

Theres a bonus too. Now I'm not contributing to further demise of the planet by making , packaging and distribution of all that plastic. I'm using the money saved to experience more live music events and improve my system.
I think there are more people creating music now than anytime in history with the advent of computer technology. Case in point is my brilliant Silicon Valley buddy who moved back to India and created a software system to create traditional India music. He wanted people without means to be able to create music.
an obvious point being missed here is why major recording lables are not posting their artists albums in online HD accessible formats thus bypassing physical production of discs and their associated packaging.


if no HD versions of the recorded masters is doable, then at least post the Red book lossless versions.

or they will or should soon pursue a third party facilitator to aggregate and dispense those digital files for them.

I’m not keen on upsampled files merely taken from Red Book formats.

an old adage here said trash in, and its trash out. upsampling does nothing to aid increases in fidelity. it takes a natively rendered HD format to actually achieve higher resolution.

that said, higher res files vs streaming each has its place.

there is content out there which will not be enhanced by upsampling, yet will be acceptable provided in lossy formats, ie., vintage era music from before the ’90s on average.

I use Apple Music and am not thrilled with all of its ins and outs, though the catalog is impressive for discovery and arranging playlists.

Spodofy prem is my second but only streaming app and I find it a tick or so above Apple in SQ, but not quite so friendly with user defined playlists creation.

at some point going forward major lables will undoubtedly provide their Artists natively cut tracks.

some independants already do.

that is the next wave to come.

Neil is right. lossy music has anestasized an entire generation from what music is to what music is supposed to be.

there is a Youtube vid which has several audio gurus paneling a discussion on the genre. Van der steen, d’Agostino, McGowan, Noodle, and Stewart from Meridian. its hosted by the TAS editor.

in it Bob S makes a great analogy about the present state of affairs on lossey vs lossless music, and our latest generation’s designs on it/them.

in all a highly rec’d video.
what’s missing is a place where you could download all music all genres in Flac or Wav., just like shopping at Tower Records but online. Amazon is pathetic, only Mp3 format if the album is available. major labels should host such websites, but charge reasonable prices for their entire catalog of music. Presto is great for classical and i use their service. for Rock, Folk, ect. the only alternative is PB.  have not tried streaming services since the SQ sounds dubious.  i prefer a landline.
I loved reading this piece in the NYT. Well written and thought provoking.

I do, of course, agree with Neil’s perspectives. However, the reason I am chiming in here is that, while vinyl continues to be my primary source for listening, I do have a DAC in my main system (otherwise tube-based) and stream from time to time. I am shocked that no one has mentioned Deezer as their streaming source. The quality is incredible.

Anyone else using Deezer?

thanks
Yes - Mr. Young is right!
Amazing read. Thanks so much for pointing us to that.article.
Even though - with hundreds of CDs and hundreds of more LPs, many of which are early masters and I have no interest in switching gears to streaming - I don’t see streaming, as apposed to physical playback, as the problem. To each their own. I do however see a great disparity in the production of modern music. In general - over compressed, over dubbed, over edited and over synthesized, with less live instrumentation.
Call me old fashioned - I prefer music that is recorded live in the studio or at the venue, with real, not synthesized, instruments and songs that tell a story. Neil, most definitely, was one of the great story tellers.

Many of the bands and vocalists of Neil’s era incorporated live instrumentation and orchestration to their performances and recordings and while there are some great new artists out there, quite often (particularly in the genre of pop) I’ll hear a new artist on media, radio or TV and kind of like, so pick up the CD or LP, bring it home and throw on, only to be a bit underwhelmed at the overall performance and lack of real instruments.
Every now and again, though, I find a surprisingly good recording from a fresh new artist, but mostly I like the old stuff - Classic Rock, Jazz, Blues, Contemporary, Light Pop, Folk and even Country and however good, or not, is streaming, I have no desire to abandon my LPs and CDs.......Jim