• "Streaming ends for me today…" Neil Young



    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.







    Comments 77 Comments
    1. firedog's Avatar
      firedog -
      The Beatles are still managing to milk a lot of money out of that non-streaming cow. They will join the streaming crowd at some point (if the streaming companies actually stay in business, which isn't a certainty long term).
    1. Apesbrain's Avatar
      Apesbrain -
      "TIDAL streams lossless FLAC/ALAC (don't believe the streaming at 1411 kbps Tidal hype, that would be WAV/AIFF files)."
      This is a misunderstanding: by definition "lossless" FLAC/ALAC decode and playback at 1411 kbps.
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Quote Originally Posted by Apesbrain View Post
      "TIDAL streams lossless FLAC/ALAC (don't believe the streaming at 1411 kbps Tidal hype, that would be WAV/AIFF files)."
      This is a misunderstanding: by definition "lossless" FLAC/ALAC decode and playback at 1411 kbps.
      I'm talking about streaming not playing. Streams at substantially less than 1411 and I'm happy it does this. There's no reason to stream 1411 kbps.
    1. ElviaCaprice's Avatar
      ElviaCaprice -
      You can't stream onto a Pono. Maybe that is what has Neil worked up. Also with Tidal, lossless ( Lossless is lossless whether compressed or not), now Neil can forsee a huge problem, an end to Pono online and Pono.
    1. Apesbrain's Avatar
      Apesbrain -
      Quote Originally Posted by The Computer Audiophile View Post
      I'm talking about streaming not playing. Streams at substantially less than 1411 and I'm happy it does this. There's no reason to stream 1411 kbps.
      Ok, but not sure your point. It "streams" at the rate to which it has been data-compressed. It losslessly decodes and plays back at 1411 kbps exactly the same as redbook CD. What you hear is the same as playing the CD or the 16/44 WAV/AIFF. Not sure what more Tidal needs to do here.
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Quote Originally Posted by Apesbrain View Post
      Ok, but not sure your point. It "streams" at the rate to which it has been data-compressed. It losslessly decodes and plays back at 1411 kbps exactly the same as redbook CD. What you hear is the same as playing the CD or the 16/44 WAV/AIFF. Not sure what more Tidal needs to do here.
      I'm 100% unsure of where you're taking this conversation and what point you're trying to make. We both agree that the stream isn't 1411 and that lossless is lossless.
    1. bobflood's Avatar
      bobflood -
      Pono Streaming must be getting close to a launch date.

      Neil must think we are all idiots. This is the most transparent rant about money to date!

      Chris is right about the Beatles. They have missed millions in revenue and few under 25 even know who they were. Now the Stones on the other hand have played it about as right as possible.

      Chris is also very correct about selling in the format that consumers want to buy be that whatever it is. This is a point lost on all the "vinyl lives forever and reigns supreme" crowd. I think Chris had a little dust up recently with their high priest and he (the high priest, not Chris) is still yammering on about it.

      Oh well, keeps things interesting and site visit counts up and advertising dollars coming in.
    1. AnotherSpin's Avatar
      AnotherSpin -
      I guess problem for Neil Young is not a streaming. Everybody already has his good music up to mid 70s at home and nobody cares about his whining about Monsanto and Starbucks streaming or not.
    1. rodrigaj's Avatar
      rodrigaj -
      If Neil Young was interested in sound quality, he would be recording in DSD64 or DSD128. This is about Pono. Streaming services are competition for his outmoded Pono business model.
    1. YashN's Avatar
      YashN -
      Quote Originally Posted by rodrigaj View Post
      If Neil Young was interested in sound quality, he would be recording in DSD64 or DSD128. This is about Pono.
      I thought the same at the time of announcement.
    1. bmoura's Avatar
      bmoura -
      Quote Originally Posted by YashN View Post
      I thought the same at the time of announcement.
      And there are tests of DSD 128 Streaming these days. His moment may be coming soon!

      DSD Live Streaming
    1. ednaz's Avatar
      ednaz -
      Never asking "can you hear the difference" again. My wife, who carries on at length about not being able to hear the difference, not only can but has weighed in on future music purchases. We're both lobbying our local public radio jazz station to upgrade their streaming, I played some alternative streaming stations and after she got done saying she could tell the difference, she did tell the difference. If I wear crappy ear pods it doesn't matter. If I wear anything designed to resolve, it matters a lot. I'm with Neil. Below 24/48, music isn't engaging for me, and at 24/96, a lot of stuff that I'm mildly interested in sounds engaging. Beyond that, it's degrees of joy.
    1. firedog's Avatar
      firedog -
      Quote Originally Posted by bobflood View Post
      Chris is right about the Beatles. They have missed millions in revenue and few under 25 even know who they were. Now the Stones on the other hand have played it about as right as possible.
      Well I come into constant contact with under 25's from all over the world, and they almost all not only know who the Beatles are, they know Beatles songs well enough that they can sing the lyrics.

      I have no idea how much money the Beatles have lost in streaming. On the other hand, they have revenue sources on a level most other artists can't touch. Two vinyl Box sets within a year or two and both sold massive amounts for that medium.

      They like to control their catalog and how it is marketed. They have repeatedly shown that they are willing to forgo revenue streams for a while in order to have their music presented the way they want it to be. Unlike most artists, they have the power to do that. I imagine at some point they will join in the streaming world. They will probably manage to negotiate a highly preferential royalty rate that other artists don't get, and make a ton of money that way.
    1. ajay556's Avatar
      ajay556 -
      Quote Originally Posted by The Computer Audiophile View Post
      I'm talking about streaming not playing. Streams at substantially less than 1411 and I'm happy it does this. There's no reason to stream 1411 kbps.
      On side note on streaming quality
      I think we are missing one major factor The sound quality from streaming at what ever format is till not par or even close to CD quality from local files or transports. So what ever magic is going on with streaming calling it 1411 does not mean you are getting CD quality sound.

      So Neil has a point here!
    1. Geoffrey Armstrong's Avatar
      Geoffrey Armstrong -
      I wouldn't be surprised if this is more a reaction to Apple Music than anything else. After all lossless Qobuz and Tidal streaming services cater to a relative niche. It's Apple that mainly owns the space right now.
    1. new_media's Avatar
      new_media -
      So is Neil also going to pull his catalog from the iTunes Store, because I'm pretty sure the files Apple Music is streaming are the same 256K AAC files they have for sale.
    1. Pepsican's Avatar
      Pepsican -
      Quote Originally Posted by The Computer Audiophile View Post
      I'm talking about streaming not playing. Streams at substantially less than 1411 and I'm happy it does this. There's no reason to stream 1411 kbps.
      Yes, but then it uncompresses and you get the full CD quality file.
    1. Blizzard's Avatar
      Blizzard -
      John and George must be rolling over in their graves over the lost streaming revenue
    1. Apesbrain's Avatar
      Apesbrain -
      Quote Originally Posted by ajay556 View Post
      On side note on streaming quality
      I think we are missing one major factor The sound quality from streaming at what ever format is till not par or even close to CD quality from local files or transports. So what ever magic is going on with streaming calling it 1411 does not mean you are getting CD quality sound.
      And there it is. I'm 100% sure that this unsubstantiated claim illustrates why labelling TIDAL as "unbelievable hype" is a bad thing.
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Quote Originally Posted by Apesbrain View Post
      And there it is. I'm 100% sure that this unsubstantiated claim illustrates why labelling TIDAL as "unbelievable hype" is a bad thing.
      I think you are mixing two things here, 1. My objective fact that Tidal is hyping it's service with a false claim of streaming 1411 and 2. People's subjective experience of Tidal's sound quality.

      By the way, can you personally hear the watermark in all Universal Music on streaming services?