Today, Neil Young has taken to his Facebook for a defiant stand against music streaming services. Never one to fit in, Young’s primary gripe isn’t about unfair compensation for artists. The Pono pioneer is most concerned with poor sound quality.
Streaming has ended for me. I hope this is ok for my fans.
It’s not because of the money, although my share (like all the other artists) was dramatically reduced by bad deals made without my consent.
It’s about sound quality. 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 me, It’s about making and distributing music people can really hear and feel. I stand for that.
When the quality is back, I’ll give it another look. Never say never.
As Pitchfork points out, Young’s music was still available on Spotify, Tidal, and Apple Music when he posted that note.
The idea that streaming services will ruin output quality is nonsense. First, most people can’t discern among the various frequencies, as our staff proved with poor performances to boot on NPR’s audiophile quiz. Second, Young’s music has been a staple on AM radio. It doesn’t get much lower in quality than AM radio.
Most importantly, though, is that Young believes he can control his work once it’s in the consumer’s hands. It’s an ongoing debate whether art belongs to the artist or the viewer, but one thing is for sure: The musician cannot influence how the listener receives the work. Young has no grounds in depriving those who want to hear his oft-wrong takes on large corporations, from hearing his complaints. Taking down his music from those who still care about him is another megalomaniacal self-important move from someone who makes guitar music that doesn’t need to be heard on gigantic speakers to be understood.