Neil Young now wants you to keep on rockin’ in the paywall world after a year of offering a free beta version of his Neil Young Archives website while he ramped up the service. But for fans, it’ll be a small price to pay for unlimited access to the voluminous and still-growing library the celebrated musician is putting online: $1.99 per month or $19.99 annually. There’ll still be a free tier, too, he promises, for anyone whose appetite for more than 50 years’ worth of unreleased live albums and studio outtakes is more easily sated.
“I wanted a place where my fans and I could hear my music from the very beginning, from the high school bands I was in, to my latest recordings – audio and visual,” Young said in a statement announcing the official launch. “If you want to hear my music and would like to have the option to listen to it with all the depth and glory of high resolution, it will be there. All my new records can be heard there first, before they get released anywhere else. New, unreleased albums from the archives and old, unreleased albums from the archives will always be heard there first. Our machine is a monster.”
Even before this official launch, Young’s NYA site was the biggest archival site dedicated to and operated by any major recording artist. An iOS app is newly available, with an Android version coming soon. (The latter “encountered cobwebs in the tunnel,” according to a typically whimsical message on the site. “They have been partially cleared by volunteer Elves.”)
Young has been archivally focused outside of the site, too, releasing a series of historical albums, including the No. 1 and 2 entries on the NYA chart — “Songs for Judy,” a solo acoustic recording drawn from a 1976 tour, released Nov. 30, and “Roxy: Tonight’s the Night Live,” an April release documenting a 1973 gig. A news alert on the site this month announced that “Crazy Horse’s ‘Ragged Glory’ album (from 1990) will be twice the size in its next release,” with outtakes that “are equal to anything on the existing record, maybe better.”
The Pono may be kaput, but Young’s fetish for high-end online audio isn’t: a press release says the site is “capable of streaming at the original quality of master recordings, higher than other streaming services at 192 kHz/24 bit.” Select concerts will also be live-streamed on the site.
The free tier will allow access to a featured album and song of the day, paid downloads, playlists and the text portions of the site, including the NYA Times Contrarian, a “daily newspaper” that includes some of Young’s musings on politics (the notoriously anti-Trump musician recently reprinted a respectful letter from a Trump supporter), the environment and… you guessed it, high-end online audio.
“Each song is being backed up with the archival material that relates to it and to the creation of it, from song writing to band jams,” Young wrote. “The history of this music is there. It’s never finished — it is huge and growing. We work night and day expanding the window you can see this archival stuff through.”