Never say Neil Young isn’t persistent. His Pono audiophile download service may not have captured the public imagination – launching, as it did, just as streaming became a huge force in music consumption – but that hasn’t stopped the veteran Canadian rocker from deciding to take another push at saving our ears from over-compressed music files.
In an interview with Rolling Stone, Young revealed that he was planning towards redirecting Pono towards being a high-res streaming service. “We’re pushing towards getting a presence in phones,” he told the magazine – though, as Rolling Stone pointed out, iPhones are not currently equipped to reproduce the sound quality Young desires).
Young added that Pono is working with a company in Singapore on ways to “maintain our quality level when we go streaming”.
The Pono music player and online store launched in January 2015, having been funded using the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter. However, it has not been quite the glittering success Young hoped for.
In a Facebook post in August 2015, Young revealed that funding problems meant Pono had been unable to expand internationally. Furthermore, the departure of CEO John Hamm in 2014 meant Young had to run the company. “We have no proven business leader at the head of our company, but the search continues for one who could do it to our liking and understand what our goal is and how big it is. We are still looking,” Young wrote.
In July 2016, Pono’s music store went offline after another company bought its content partner, Omnifone. The website has remained down ever since. A message on the site reads: “Progress continues to move the PonoMusic store to a new content partner. We are in the midst of doing all of the needed engineering work to enable that. Once completed, you’ll have the ability to purchase our music in the US and Canada again and we will have the ability to begin expansion to other countries. This remains the top priority for the PonoMusic team, and we appreciate your continued support during this transition.”