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Neil Young Ready to Rock the Free World With Righteous Pono Digital Music Service

Posted by Mark J. Miller on December 19, 2012 03:18 PM

Canadian folk/rock legend Neil Young may be 67 years old, but he isn’t ready to retire anytime soon. The musician (and side inventor of such wonders as the Linc-Volt hybrid car), who has long railed not just at big business but also the lousy quality of MP3s, is getting ready to launch a major business of his own that will help create a better digital sound, as the artist intended. As he says in his new memoir, Waging Heavy Peace, he’s “trying like hell to rescue recorded sound so people can feel music again.”

Cue Pono, Young's upcoming “music service featuring high-resolution master downloads of songs.” He recently applied for the trademarks "Pono Promise" and "21st Century Digital," Rolling Stone reports. Back in May, a colleague of Young’s registered the website address mypono.com, where you can now sign up for updates on the service's looming launch. The name, by the way, is Hawaiian for “righteous,” but Young is being anything but self-righteous in his bid to rescue music for music lovers.

With Pono Music already on Facebook and Twitter, Young has been talking up the service for months (including in TV interviews with David Letterman and Jon Stewart) and has said that the “service's cloud-based music-library component and portable digital-to-analog players” should be in stores by summer 2013.

The two-time Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Famer showed off the Pono sound last year in a 1978 Cadillac Eldorado to some other music big names, such as Tom Petty, the Beastie Boys' Mike D, Kid Rock and members of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Rolling Stone notes; Beck is also a big fan. Young also demoed it in the Cadillac to Ford bigwig William Ford.

This fall, as Bloomberg News notes, Young found a few investors willing to pony up $500,000 to help Pono along. Young “is not a spring chicken and this is something that is new and different,” Mark Goldstein, the former CEO of Young’s company Ivanhoe, told Bloomberg. “Not much scares him.”

And why should it? Young has seen and heard a lot in his life. Now he’s hoping he can help a whole lot of people do the latter in theirs as well.

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