(Photo: ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
Neil Young was at South By Southwest this week to launch a new venture that's one step removed from his musical career: an MP3 player. The device, called Pono, was born out of Young's obsession with audio quality. He has famously decried the highly compressed audio files that we've been listening to for years, and Pono — along with the accompanying music streaming service PonoMusic.com — is an attempt to change that. It offers audiophiles the chance to listen to portable music with absurdly high quality sound (or as the Kickstarter page says, it's "an end-to-end ecosystem for music lovers to get access to and enjoy their favourite music exactly as the artist created it, at the recording resolution they chose in the studio").
Young's player has a host of proponents, including big industry names like Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, James Taylor and Eddie Vedder. Of course, it also has its detractors — critics who argue that it's scientfically impossible to register the difference in sound quality Young's player purports to offer.
Regardless, Pono officially launched yesterday on Kickstarter, offering early adopters the chance to scoop one up for $300 ($100 less than it's supposed to retail for). In the first day and a half, Pono raised more than $1.5 million — about double the $800,000 goal.
Of course, why would we ever doubt a Neil Young venture? The rocker has become known for his extracurriculars, which include designing and building bio-electric cars and building model trains. Click through the gallery below to learn about seven other musicians with equally varied hobbies and surprising non-musical side-projects.