Here we go again, Uncle Neil is grabbing headlines talking about sound quality. This time Neil is pulling his music from streaming services because, "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."
For the most part I like when Neil talks to the masses about sound quality. This time he's rubbing me the wrong way. I'm calling BS on this move being about sound quality. Never mind the fact that Neil's music is still available on Spotify, YouTube, Apple Music, and Tidal, I'm assuming he will pull everything from streaming services as his statement says. In my view this has nothing to do with sound quality.
Let's look at the details. I'm willing to exclude the fact that Neil's music has been available on 8-Track, Cassette, AM radio, FM radio, Satellite radio, and a host of other formats of arguably lesser quality than streaming services. Spotify streams at 320 kbps OGG, Apple Music streams at 256 kbps AAC, and TIDAL streams lossless FLAC/ALAC (don't believe the streaming at 1411 kbps Tidal hype, that would be WAV/AIFF files). In addition to streaming, Neil's music is available for download purchase via iTunes at 256 kbps AAC, Google Play at 320 kbps MP3, and Amazon at 256 kbps MP3. Thus, if Neil removes all his music from streaming services he will have changed nothing when it comes to sound quality. The poor quality that he detests is still available from a number of outlets for download purchase. Contrary to what he says, maybe this is about money. If it's about money that would be totally Ok with me. If Neil wants to be compensated from purchased music rather than rented music that's his prerogative. Even if Neil removed all his lossy music (MP3, AAC, OGG) from services and download stores that would be OK with me. In that case I can see the quality angle. However, nothing about Neil's actions suggests this is about quality, only his words suggest it's about quality.
On another note, if Neil Young is no longer available on streaming services he will suffer the same fate as The Beatles who are also not available on streaming services. Both artists will disappear from public consciousness without streaming availability. Younger generations will not even hear Neil's or The Beatles' music if they can't stream it. As wacky as that may sound, people will only read about non-streaming artists on Wikipedia rather than listen to their art as intended by the artists.
On yet another note, music journalist Anil Prasad recently claimed, "Streaming cos. & entitled consumers think music falls out of the sky like magical rainfall to be collected for free by holding out a bucket." This got me thinking. Is it consumers who think they are entitled or is it artists who think they are entitled to sell music in a format that consumers don't want? I'm not anti-artist at all, I just think people who've decided to sell their art need to consider how potential customers want to consume that art. Anyway, back to Neil Young. Pulling his music from streaming services is a loss for his current and potential fans.