Neil Young to sell $399 PonoPlayer music device through Kickstarter – The Guardian
It is no secret that musician Neil Young is preparing to unveil a new digital music service and portable player device during a keynote at the SXSW conference this week. But the details have leaked in advance of his speech.
According to a press release published on fansite Neil Young News and picked up by industry blog Evolver.fm, Young will launch a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign for his new PonoPlayer device on 15 March, with early buyers getting a discount on its planned $399 price.
The device will be supported by an online music downloads store called PonoMusic, which will sell files at a higher resolution than rivals like Apple’s iTunes.
“It’s about the music, real music. We want to move digital music into the 21st century and PonoMusic does that. We couldn’t be more excited about bringing PonoMusic to the market,” said Young in a statement accompanying the announcement.
Young will act as chairman of PonoMusic, working with chief executive John Hamm, a fellow music industry veteran. “Our goal was to offer the highest quality digital music available from all the major labels with the world’s greatest sounding, user-friendly portable music player,” said Hamm.
“We’ve achieved our goal and we are excited to launch our Kickstarter campaign next week to invite music lovers everywhere to join the PonoMusic community and reserve a PonoPlayer for their own enjoyment.”
PonoMusic is working with US hardware firm Ayre Acoustics to produce the device, which will ship with 128GB of memory to store music, as well as accepting memory cards to boost its capacity. The company will also sell earphones and headphones from its website.
Young has been planning Pono for some time. In early 2012, he talked publicly about previous discussions with Apple boss Steve Jobs about a high-resolution audio version of that company’s iPod, although the talks never came to anything.
Young first announced his plans for Pono later that year including showing a prototype version of the device on a US TV chat show, before filing trademarks for the player and service in December 2012.
In September 2013, Young updated fans on his Facebook page, promising an early 2014 launch for PonoMusic. “The simplest way to describe what we’ve accomplished is that we’ve liberated the music of the artist from the digital file and restored it to its original artistic quality – as it was in the studio,” he wrote.
“Hearing Pono for the first time is like that first blast of daylight when you leave a movie theatre on a sun-filled day.”