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Neil Young yanks music from streaming services: 'Worst audio in history'

'It's not because of the money' says Down By The River star

"My music is being removed from all streaming services. It's not good enough to sell or rent," aging rock grumpster Neil Young said today.

In a post on Facebook, the veteran musician explained:

Streaming has ended for me. I hope this is OK for my fans.

It's not because of the money, although my share (like all the other artists) was dramatically reduced by bad deals made without my consent.

It's about sound quality. I don't need my music to be devalued by the worst quality in the history of broadcasting or any other form of distribution. I don't feel right allowing this to be sold to my fans. It's bad for my music.

For me, It's about making and distributing music people can really hear and feel. I stand for that.

When the quality is back, I'll give it another look. Never say never.

The newly launched Apple Music streams at 256kbps in AAC format. Spotify streams at rates varying from 96kbps on mobile at "normal" quality to 320kbps for subscribers using the desktop client. Some streaming services, such as Tidal and Qobuz, stream in lossless formats at CD quality.

Listening tests on the quality of high-bitrate lossy audio do not bear out Young's concerns, and some of Young's Facebook fans were quick to observe that in the past his music has been heard and enjoyed on crackly AM radios, cassettes and other lo-fi transports. Young responded that streaming was worse:

AM radio kicked streaming's ass. Analog Cassettes and 8 tracks also kicked streaming's ass, and absolutely rocked compared to streaming. Streaming sucks. Streaming is the worst audio in history ... Make streaming sound good and I will be back.

Young is a long-time advocate for high-resolution audio, and has developed his own music service, Pono, complete with a portable player which supports up to 24-bit, 192kHz lossless audio. If he succeeds in removing his audio from streaming services (which could be tricky, depending on what agreements are in place), then more business might go to download services like Pono. But it's not about the money, right, Neil? ®

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