Neil Young took to Facebook and Twitter today to announce that he's removing his music from all streaming services, a move he's blaming on their poor audio quality rather than any financial frustration. "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," said Young on Facebook. He has some skin in this particular game, of course: Young is the force behind the high fidelity Pono media player and digital music service, which was funded through Kickstarter and became available to the public this January.
Young is a passionate advocate for audio quality, but his decision isn't standing on the most solid ground. Some streaming services — like Jay Z's Tidal, for instance — base much of their value proposition on the quality of their streamed music, comparing it to what you'd hear playing a CD or listening to lossless files on your computer. There are many other factors that contribute to your perception of audio quality beyond the service you use to listen, like headphones and parent device. And when we rounded up a few Vox Media staffers to test the quality of various streaming services in a controlled environment, they had a hard time telling the difference anyway. It's possible Young is just trying to make his own music service stand out, something he can use his lauded discography to accomplish.
You still have time to stream some of Young's work
If you're a streaming service subscriber and you want to listen to Young's work before it vanishes forever, you might still have some time. I'm listening to After the Gold Rush on Spotify as I write this, and a quick search of Apple Music yielded a few compilations and studio albums stretching back to 1992's Harvest Moon.
Verge Video: Hands-on with Neil Young's Pono music player