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Topic: PonoMusic Is Dead.. All Hail Xstream! (Read 1534 times) previous topic - next topic
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PonoMusic Is Dead.. All Hail Xstream!

It's official. Neil Young has killed PonoMusic player and hi-res download service.
Now Young is going to a streaming service called Xstream.

Quote
Neil Young (PonoMusic)

It’s time to talk about Pono and the initiative we all started. As you know, together we’ve been fighting a battle to bring high quality music back to the world that’s become used to mediocre, hollowed-out files. The cause seemed to be a win-win for everyone. The artists would allow their fans to hear what they hear in the studios, and the music lovers would hear the music the best it could be. This cause has been something I’ve written and talked about for over 20 years.  I cared and I assumed that most of the world would care.
 
It’s been almost five years since we kicked off the campaign at SXSW to offer a player and download content that could fulfill my dream of bringing to you a music experience unlike any other for the cost. Thanks to our supporters on Kickstarter, the follow-on customers and some very good friends that supported the effort, we delivered on that promise. Our player won best digital portable product of the year from Stereophile Magazine, and we offered some of the best high resolution content to be found anywhere.  We sold tens of thousands of players, every unit that we made. Thanks for that!
 
But, despite that success, I was not satisfied. I had to put up with lots of criticism for the high cost of music delivered in the way all music should be provided, at full resolution and not hollowed out. I had no control over the pricing, but I was the one that felt the criticism, because I was the face of it. And I pretty much agreed with the criticism. Music should not be priced this way.
 
Last year when Omnifone, our download store partner, was bought and shut down with no notice by Apple, we began work with another company to build the same download store. But the more we worked on it, the more we realized how difficult it would be to recreate what we had and how costly it was to run it: to deliver the Pono promise, meaning you’d never have to buy the same album again if was released at a higher quality; the ability to access just high res music, and not the same performances at lower quality, and the ability to do special sales. Each of these features was expensive to implement.
 
I also realized that just bringing back the store was not enough. While there was a dedicated audience, I could not in good conscience continue to justify the higher costs. When it comes to high res, the record industry is still broken.  The industry was such that even when I wanted to remaster some of the great performances from my artist friends at high res, Pono had to pay thousands of dollars for each recording, with little expectation of getting the money back. Record companies believe they should charge a premium for high res recordings and conversely, I believe all music should cost the same, regardless of the technology used.
 
As you might imagine, I found it difficult to raise more money for this model: delivering quality music at a premium price to a limited audience that felt they were being taken advantage of with the high costs.
 
So now, sadly with Pono offline, for more than eight months I’ve been working with our small team to look for alternatives. Finding a way to deliver the quality music without the expense and to bring it to a larger audience has been our goal.
 
That effort has led to a technology developed by Orastream, a small company in Singapore that we’ve been working with. Together we created Xstream, the next generation of streaming, an adaptive streaming service that changes with available bandwidth. It is absolutely amazing because it is capable of complete high resolution playback. Unlike all other streaming services that are limited to playing at a single low or moderate resolution, Xstream plays at the highest quality your network condition allows at that moment and adapts as the network conditions change. It’s a single high resolution bit-perfect file that essentially compresses as needed to never stop playing. As a result, it always sounds better than the other streaming services and it never stops or buffers like other higher res services.  When you play it at home with WiFi it can play all established low and high resolutions, including the highest, and thousands more levels of resolution in between. When you are in your car with poor cellular it might play better than an existing low res service, but at a location where robust wifi is available Xstream supports high resolution listening. Xstream is one file, streaming for all with 15,000 seamlessly changing levels of playback quality.
 
So, this is what we’ve been working on. But one of my conditions is that it should not have a premium price. I’ve insisted that there be no premium price for this service. Pono tried that with downloads and it’s not a good model for customers. And I’ve told the labels it’s not a good model for them to charge a premium for music the way it was meant to be heard. I firmly believe that music is in trouble because you can’t hear it the way it is created unless you pay a premium. No one gets to hear the real deal, so the magic of music is compromised by limited technology.
 
Good sounding music is not a premium. All songs should cost the same, regardless of digital resolution. Let the people decide what they want to listen to without charging them more for true quality. That way quality is not an elitist thing. If high resolution costs more, listeners will just choose the cheaper option and never hear the quality. Record companies will ultimately lose more money by not exposing the true beauty of their music to the masses. Remember, all music is created to sound great and the record labels are the one’s deciding to not offer that at the normal price. The magic of music should be presented by the stewards of that music at a normal price. Let listeners decide on the quality they want to purchase without pricing constraints.
 
I’ve been meeting with and speaking with the labels, potential partners such as the carriers, and other potential investors. For many it’s a difficult sell. There are already streaming services, some doing well and others not. While there’s nothing as good as Xstream, or as flexible and adaptive, it’s still proven a difficult sell for companies to invest in.
 
So, in my experience, today’s broken music industry continues to make major mistakes, but we are still trying. Bringing back the magic of great sound matters to the music of the world.
 
Thank you all very much for supporting Pono and quality audio. Thanks to everyone who is or was associated with Pono, especially the customers who supported us. Thanks to Charlie Hansen and Ayre Acoustics for the great PonoPlayer. It has been a labor of love. I want you to know that I’m still trying to make the case for bringing you the best music possible, at a reasonable price, the same message we brought to you five years ago. I don’t know whether we will succeed, but it’s still as important to us as it ever was.
 
Thankfully, for those of my audience who care and want to hear all the music, every recording I have ever released will soon be available in Xstream high resolution quality at my complete online archive. Check it out. We will be announcing it very soon.
 
Neil Young

https://www.ponomusic.com/cc_topic?id=0TO150000009F1z

Re: PonoMusic Is Dead.. All Hail Xstream!

Reply #1
From sparing us from hollowed-out files to celebrating bitrate peeling: pathetic.
Is 24-bit/192kHz good enough for your lo-fi vinyl, or do you need 32/384?

Re: PonoMusic Is Dead.. All Hail Xstream!

Reply #2
From sparing us from hollowed-out files to celebrating bitrate peeling: pathetic.

Pono was a download service download only, and if I understand correctly: no streaming?
So it is gonna be bitrate-peeled playback over the internet ("low" resolution every time) rather than an owning the "right" hi-rez file once-and-for-all? The end result: higher bandwidth consumption (at least for tracks you play more than a couple of times) at lower playback bitrate?

Maybe his customers won't even be able to tell the difference? :-p




Re: PonoMusic Is Dead.. All Hail Xstream!

Reply #3
>Last year when Omnifone, our download store partner, was bought and shut down with no notice by Apple

So they base their business on a 3rd party without the required contracts in place to ensure no termination in service...great management there.

To me it sounds like they figured out the maths is not working in their favour, so time to bail.

Re: PonoMusic Is Dead.. All Hail Xstream!

Reply #4
Do you think they, including Neil, actually believe themselves?

Re: PonoMusic Is Dead.. All Hail Xstream!

Reply #5
From sparing us from hollowed-out files to celebrating bitrate peeling: pathetic.

Pono was a download service download only, and if I understand correctly: no streaming?
So it is gonna be bitrate-peeled playback over the internet ("low" resolution every time) rather than an owning the "right" hi-rez file once-and-for-all? The end result: higher bandwidth consumption (at least for tracks you play more than a couple of times) at lower playback bitrate?

Maybe his customers won't even be able to tell the difference? :-p

LOL!

The other shoe dropping: Investigate the options for buying a Pono Player.  

From Amazon and Google searching I discern a lack of authorized dealers, no mainstream resellers, and basically two options: NOS and used.

Re: PonoMusic Is Dead.. All Hail Xstream!

Reply #6
Neil's "hollowed out sound" is originating from inside his head. Which makes sense really.
Loudspeaker manufacturer

Re: PonoMusic Is Dead.. All Hail Xstream!

Reply #7
>Last year when Omnifone, our download store partner, was bought and shut down with no notice by Apple

So they base their business on a 3rd party without the required contracts in place to ensure no termination in service...great management there.

Maybe. Or maybe even the contract stipulated a bailout scheme based on the size of the business, and that amounted to approximately zero dollars - at least to Apple?

To me it sounds like they figured out the maths is not working in their favour, so time to bail.

Consistent with that yes.

Re: PonoMusic Is Dead.. All Hail Xstream!

Reply #8
The HiBit files were to expensive to obtain for pono and for offer but now xstream will stream you full HiBit!?
So many things done and said around the pono store and player was crap from the beginning.
Whoever spents 1 more Cent based on NY drivel should be pulled his driving license.
This makes me wonder how many streaming providers we really need?
Must be the music business believes in streaming atm as a service everybody must have in different places from now on and dislikes the fact you own the music you listen and pay only once.
Is troll-adiposity coming from feederism?
With 24bit music you can listen to silence much louder!

Re: PonoMusic Is Dead.. All Hail Xstream!

Reply #9
Quote
The artists would allow their fans to hear what they hear in the studios, and the music lovers would hear the music the best it could be.
Bullshit Never Sleeps
| TAK pMax | QAAC ~ 192 kbps |

Re: PonoMusic Is Dead.. All Hail Xstream!

Reply #10
Quote
When it comes to high res, the record industry is still broken.  The industry was such that even when I wanted to remaster some of the great performances from my artist friends at high res, Pono had to pay thousands of dollars for each recording, with little expectation of getting the money back. Record companies believe they should charge a premium for high res recordings and conversely, I believe all music should cost the same, regardless of the technology used.

Therefore we need new, more expensive, proprietary technology available from a single source. Makes sense to me. :)

Re: PonoMusic Is Dead.. All Hail Xstream!

Reply #11
>Last year when Omnifone, our download store partner, was bought and shut down with no notice by Apple

So they base their business on a 3rd party without the required contracts in place to ensure no termination in service...great management there.

To me it sounds like they figured out the maths is not working in their favour, so time to bail.

Audio woo-woo crowd has poor financial skills? What a shocker!

 

Re: PonoMusic Is Dead.. All Hail Xstream!

Reply #12
You know, for all the crap he gets over the placebo jazz I still think lossless stores are very important to the future of music and he seemed to be in a good position to get various labels on board.

We always are hearing of the death/impending doom of CDs, and for some releases it's already happened: there are no CD versions for various releases. In some cases only lossy digital versions are available. The way I see it even despite the misguided goal of Young it was still providing an alternative for those looking for popular music purchasable digitally and losslessly. That said I could never get the store to load on my browser so I couldn't check out the range they had, and apparently the prices were 'premium'. Still, the general point stands in that I wonder what lossless digital stores will exist for popular releases by the time CDs are gone or if we'll be stuck with Amazon/iTunes/etc and only lossless available for less popular releases (similar to the current situation).

Just adding to that, it seems apparent that lossless online stores are a niche and with the popularity of lossy streaming and stores my concern is labels come some years from now won't bother to publish lossless versions of their releases as they may come to believe the audience is too small. Already CDs seem only made for popular new releases not due to being lossless per se but because of the legacy of players out there. When that shrinks enough I wonder what will happen.

 
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