Neil Young’s Pono Music Venture Pursues Club Owners

Posted December 4

We’ve been all over Neil Young’s Pono music initiative because:

A) It’s a bold gambit to reinvent digital music as something that sounds better, and

B) It’s from Neil Young, who is famous enough to talk about it on The Daily Show and Late Night with David Letterman in a way that other technology entrepreneurs are not.


Now comes word through a trusted source that Pono employees are approaching dance clubs to try to get them to sign up for this better-than-CD-quality digital music service, which will require a special hardware player because smartphones and most computers don’t have the hardware to deal with high-resolution music.

According to a club owner, whose name we’re keeping out of this, Pono approached him to pitch its service — even in advance of any sort of commercial launch, or even a website. So apparently, part of Pono’s putative plan is to launch with a bunch of venues already on board, in addition to pushing the Pono player directly to consumers like the girl who apparently walked down the street in front of Neil Young one time and led to this whole thing.

This is the first we’ve heard that Pono will be an enterprise play, in addition to being something that consumers carry around. The move would put the company in competition with Sirius XM, DMX, Roqbot, Pandora, and Muzak, in addition to its already heady task of convincing music fans once again to carry around something besides their phone, just for music listening.

Businesses already distinguish themselves with various marks of quality in the form of stickers for Zagat, Yelp, MasterCard, Visa, and others. Do they have room on their doors for another sticker for Pono HD Music (we suppose)?

It’s possible that people could choose one bar over another based on Pono, if only because they’re curious about this thing Neil Young was talking about on late night television. At that point, it will be up to Pono to prove that its music really does sound better, and that has a great deal more to do with the speakers, in our experience, than with the audio files, provided they are sufficiently encoded.

According to one expert, there’s no point to HD music even given identical speakers. But surely, Pono will provide demonstrations to venue owners to try to get them onboard, and who knows, it could sound better.

Stay tuned for more news on Pono. We can’t seem to get enough of the stuff.

(Photo courtesy of Flickr/TonyFelgueiras)