Neil Young joins streaming music with high-fidelity Xstream service
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TORONTO — Neil Young is diving into the streaming music business with a new high-fidelity service.
The rocker says he's getting behind Xstream, a platform being launched by a company based in Singapore.
While its concept is similar to other streaming offerings, Young says it differs by giving listeners music at the highest quality their network allows.
In theory, that means a fuller audio sound, if you have the right equipment.
Young has been an enthusiastic supporter of better-quality audio in an era of muddy sounds of MP3s and low-bit rate streaming audio files.
He backed the Pono digital music player, which officially launched as hardware and online store in early 2015 before suddenly closing last summer.
One of the biggest criticisms of Pono was its sky-high album prices, which could run upwards of $30 for digital files.
"I had no control over the pricing, but I was the one that felt the criticism, because I was the face of it," he wrote.
"And I pretty much agreed with the criticism. Music should not be priced this way."
Young didn't outline specifics of the Xstream service, like pricing, though he said more details would be coming "very soon."
But adding another streaming music service to an already crowded market comes with its challenges, Young acknowledged. The market is saturated with competitors, including Apple Music, Spotify and Google Play Music, vying for consumer dollars.
There's also Tidal, another streaming service launched by a group of celebrity musicians headed by Jay-Z. Other major label artists backing the service include Madonna, Taylor Swift, Kanye West and Coldplay.
"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," Young acknowledged.
"So, in my experience, today's broken music industry continues to make major mistakes, but we are still trying."
Young said he was confident Xstream could win over listeners.
"All songs should cost the same, regardless of digital resolution," he said.
"Let the people decide what they want to listen to without charging them more for true quality."
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