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Neil Young to launch his own digital music service (again)

(Photo: Getty Images/FilmMagic, Gary Miller)

In the world of little devices that play music, Microsoft’s Zune is probably one of the more memorable flops. Compared to Neil Young’s Pono, though, it might as well be one of those cool iPods with the click wheel. For those who don’t recall, Pono was both a digital music service and an mp3 player that focused primarily on high-fidelity audio—something that Young thought was sorely lacking in the Pono’s competitors. Unfortunately, Pono albums were more expensive than on other digital music services, and they could only be played on Pono players, so Young’s high-fidelity utopia inadvertently became one of those bad utopias were only rich people are allowed in.

The Pono storefront has been shut down, but according to CBC News (via Consequence Of Sound), Young hasn’t given up on his dream of digital music that actually sounds good just yet. Now, he’s teaming up with a company from Singapore called Orastream to develop a new streaming service that still emphasizes high quality but will now adapt to “changes with available bandwidth” in order to make everything sound as good as it can based on the quality of a user’s internet connection. The service is called Xstream, because it drinks Mountain Dew and does cool skateboard tricks, and part of Young’s goal is to keep the costs comparable to other services. “Let the people decide what they want to listen to without charging them more for true quality,” Young said, adding that it won’t be come “an elitist thing” this way.


Actual prices for Xstream haven’t been announced, but Young is reportedly shopping it around to investors.

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