Neil Young's Pono player soars past $800K Kickstarter goal
Just one day after its launch, Neil Young's Pono digital music player has soared past its $800,000 US crowdfunding goal and well on its way to production.
A longtime critic of the highly compressed and less dynamic audio quality of most digital music, Young has been working with audio engineers for several years on a high-fidelity alternative that is as portable and convenient as an iPod or other .mp3 player.
On Tuesday, the San Francisco-based PonoMusic Team launched its $800,000 US fundraising campaign on the popular website Kickstarter.
By noon ET on Wednesday, pledges surpassed $1.5 million US.
Meanwhile the 68-year-old music legend pitched Pono — derived from a Hawaiian term denoting "righteous," according to Young — in Austin, Texas, at the South by Southwest Festival Tuesday evening. He discussed the prism-shaped music player and its eventual music sales website before a packed audience at the Austin Convention Centre.
"Pono is about the music, it's about the people who make the music and the way it sounds to us when we're in the studio making it," Young says in a video on the Kickstarter site.
"It's about you hearing what we hear, and that hasn't happened in a long time."
The fledgling player — slated for an October 2014 release at an expected retail price of $399 US — uses the FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec) audio format and can play other high-resolution music formats.
The device features a touchscreen, basic button navigation and two outputs: one for headphones/personal listening and another for plugging into a home or car audio system.
The eventual online store Ponomusic.com will charge between $14.99 to $24.99 US per album. Prices for individual songs weren't disclosed.
Young has already garnered a bevy of famous converts for Pono's apparently warm, vinyl-quality sound. Appearing in a video to praise the sound and/or the player are such luminaries as Sting, Bruce Springsteen, Jack White, Norah Jones, Charlie Musselwhite, Arcade Fire, Patti Smith and super producers Rick Rubin and T-Bone Burnett.
"Just so I can sleep at night … I want to bring back real music," Young says.
"I want everybody to hear music that way. That's why we're on Kickstarter, and we can share it with everyone."