A Pono High-Res Streaming Service? Really?

Neil Young and Pono are back in the news after a long hiatus of newsworthiness. Rolling Stone reports, "He's [Young] working with a Singaporean company on a method to 'maintain our quality level when we go to streaming.'" My best guess is that Singaporean company is none other than OraStream (who else would it be?), the company behind the Naxos high-res classical service.

I have one question—seeing as no one is making money in the streaming marketplace, read no one, I have to wonder how Young & Co. feel they can crack this heretofore cash-poor nut?

Free Lemonade is not enough.

Maury's picture

The essential problem for Old Pono was the cratering of Download sales. According to recent RIAA reports they are sinking faster than even CD sales. I never thought Old Pono would return. So that leaves Streaming and Vinyl. Neil is already in vinyl more or less so that leaves Streaming. Maybe Neil is simply going to let the Streaming Service use his name as a PR factor. I doubt there will be any catalog brought along that Neil controls. Also I can't believe he will throw his own money at this given his marital adventures.

bobflood's picture

The Orastream people are great. Frankie and Kelvin really know their stuff( I was a beta tester for them prior to Naxos). If it is possible to combine their system with MQA (and I am not sure that it is) they would have a real competitor. The Orastream method of streaming uses a lot of bandwidth which still does cost money so MQA could help with that issue.

The bigger issue as is pointed out in the post above is obtaining the library necessary to attract enough subscribers. This is a very difficult hurdle to overcome as it becomes a chicken first/egg first kind of problem. That was Orastream's problem all along and is likely why it was bought out by Naxos.

At some point a deep pockets player like Samsung ( who now owns Harmon, including Mark Levinson) will need to step in. This has to happen if the industry wants to sell hardware in the future. CDs and downloads are on the way out so,in the digital realm at least, streaming at CD quality or better has to be supported.

If this does not happen, there will soon be no market for any serious hardware as it is useless without the software (the music).

We can argue all we want about the reasons for this but it ultimately falls into the category of "so what/now what".

So again, Good Luck Neil.

Maury's picture

Michael's question is the crux of the matter. If streamers can't make a profit, streaming music is likely to end up as a bundled feature with the basic mobile device plan. In that situation, MP3 will seem more than good enough for the indifferent mass audience.

Maybe the high end needs to make a stand with high res Downloads and Vinyl. They will be niche markets but still big enough to support high end audio gear if they hike market participation rates. Streaming may become the 21st Century's AM radio. Life is what happens to you while you are making other plans.