Neil Young announced the new PonoMusic service — aimed at audophiles who want ultra high-quality digital listening experience — will launch this week along with a custom-built $399 music device.
PonoMusic will sell songs online for playback on a portable device, The PonoPlayer. The service will include selections from major labels and “prominent” indie labels, according to the company, but it did not provide details on which artists or bands will be available. The PonoPlayer will be sold at PonoMusic.com for $399 list and is available for preorder at a discounted price on Kickstarter.com as of March 15.
“It’s about the music, real music. We want to move digital music into the 21st century and PonoMusic does exactly that,” Young, founder and chairman of PonoMusic, said in announcing the launch. Young’s label is Warner Bros. Records.
Young’s PonoMusic is certainly destined to be a niche offering, banking on the appeal of high quality compared with music-download services like Apple iTunes or Amazon.com — as well as streaming-music services like Spotify and Pandora.
The launch of PonoMusic follows the debut earlier this year of Beats Music, a $10 monthly subscription service from Dr. Dre, producer Jimmy Iovine and Trent Reznor that offers personalized recommendations and curated playlists.
Despite the numerous other digital music options, Neil Young and his partners believe there’s a market for premium digital audio. The PonoPlayer promises “no-compromise” audio quality to let consumers “experience studio master-quality digital music at the highest audio fidelity possible, bringing the true emotion and detail of the music, the way the artist recorded it, to life,” the company said. The audio technology was developed in conjunction with Boulder, Colo.-based Ayre.
“Our goal was to offer the highest quality digital music available from all the major labels with the world’s greatest sounding, user-friendly portable music player,” said John Hamm, CEO of PonoMusic. (That’s not Jon Hamm, the actor.)
The PonoPlayer has 128 gigabytes of memory, enough to store 1,000-2,000 high-resolution digital-music albums, the company said. Memory cards can be used to store and play different playlists and additional collections of music. In addition, PonoMusic-recommended earbud and headphone products will also be available for purchase on PonoMusic.com.