It’s been a crazy week for radio but that’s the world in which we live.
You may have heard the recent news about Neil Young’s decision about how consumers will be able to listen to his music. Last week, he pulled his catalogue off all streaming services.
This means no “Southern Man” or “Rockin’ In The Free World” on Pandora, Spotify, and the other pure-plays.
Unlike the Taylor Swift standoffs with Spotify, and then Apple, Young says this one’s about quality. And that’s what he told his more than three million fans on Facebook – as well as the rest of the world:
In many ways, this isn’t a new tune for Young. He’s been talking about music quality for some time now. You may recall we covered his Pono music player at CES this past January.
At that conference, Young talked about how digital music is a step back in quality. He said that “I don’t think anything can sound better than vinyl.” And his PonoPlayer (roughly $400), a high-resolution device replaces MP3s as a format, using multiple file formats that offer high quality sound.
The flight to quality is part of a larger trend in media and music consumption. While many artists are concerned about royalties and compensation, Young has always taken a different approach to music, emphasizing the experience for the listener as the next big thing.
Wonder if he’s listened to satellite radio lately?
When you think about the pure-play model, you’re looking at a system that is systematically removing the tactile, the human piece, and the charm of analog – whether it’s the philosophy or the technical side.
Whether it’s programmatic buying, music scheduling, the quality of CDs and MP3s, voicetracking, and other digital shortcuts, is there a market for that hand-crafted, homemade style of radio?
And while it doesn’t have to be an either/or proposition, is there room for brands that want to take a more organic approach to their stations – whether it’s vinyl, live DJs around the clock, or even some modified version of computer-selected music? (At one time, RCS offered a “DJ Select” product that was a hybrid of their standard model and the card box.)
For radio, this homegrown, baked fresh daily approach might have more appeal to jaded fans as well as twentysomethings searching for a richer, more robust experience.
Hey hey, my my.
Neil Young photo courtesy of Rabbi Jason Miller
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