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Neil Young Launches New Streaming Service, But Who is it For?

Neil Young Launches Streaming Service Xstream
Mandatory Credit: Photo by John Locher/AP/REX/Shutterstock (5934222a) Neil Young Musician Neil Young speaks during a session at the International CES, in Las Vegas. Pedram Abrari, Pono Music's vice president, credits Young's involvement with the company's online Kickstarter campaign in raising more than $6 million when it originally sought just $800,000 Gadget Show Celebrities, Las Vegas, USA
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* Musician Neil Young launching streaming service called Xstream
* Follows launch of his Pono music player
* Xstream to provide “hi-res music at a normal price”

Neil Young may have started his career almost four decades ago, but that doesn’t mean the rocker isn’t keeping up with the times. Just two years after he announced the launch of his “Pono” music player (and digital music store of the same name), Young is launching “Xstream,” a new digital streaming service targeted to audiophiles.

Young’s Pono music player went on sale in 2015, accompanied by a digital music store that provided — in the musician’s words — “a music experience unlike any other.” His goal was to introduce premium, high-definition audio, but the buying public, already entrenched with Spotify and Apple Music, found it difficult to pay the accompanying premium prices. When Pono first launched, songs cost $3.99 (as opposed to the standard $1.99 on other services), and customers needed the $399 Pono player just to listen to them. The experiment was an admitted failure, and the Pono digital music store was taken down after just 18 months.

Now, Young hopes to launch a more attractive — and accessible — product with Xstream. The digital streaming service will provide hi-res music at a “normal price” Young says, though exact details have yet to be announced.

In an online post, Young further explains the benefits of his new platform: “Xstream plays at the highest quality your network condition allows at that moment and adapts as the network conditions change. It’s a single high-resolution bit-perfect file that essentially compresses as needed to never stop playing.”

Every Neil Young recording will be available on Xstream. The musician had previously pulled his catalog from Apple Music and Spotify when he launched Pono, though some of his songs and albums are now back on.