Neil Young's beleaguered Pono, a name that covers both his high-resolution listening device and a digital music store, has been struggling since its January 2015 launch, and most recently was taken offline this July after its provider, Omnifone, went into administration and was purchased by an unidentified buyer (7digital took over). Five months later, the high-quality audio download platform remains out of service, but Young isn't giving up on his pet project just yet. In a new interview with Rolling Stone, Young says he's looking into adapting the service for streaming.
"We're setting up right now partnerships for a Pono hi-res streaming service, and when we get our streaming service up we're gonna re-emerge as a streaming service and a hi-res download offer," Young says on the RS podcast. "That's what we do, that's our service: we provide the best that's available, full-resolution music, great-sounding music, and we're pushing towards getting our presence in phones and being able to be part of large partnerships that will enable us to be able to share the sound of hi-res and have people experience the sound of hi-res in music, like they have in television."
Pono initially launched with a library of two million songs, allowing users to purchase and download lossless FLAC files of each track and rejecting the compressed formats that make files like mp3s take up smaller amounts of space on hard drives and free up room for more songs or data. That's often necessary for streaming services to avoid delays and buffering times in delivering audio to users, and only Tidal currently offers a hi-res subscription option, which it advertises for $20/month. Young, however, says Pono will not use lossless compression methods, but is in the process of setting up a partnership with a company based in Singapore that will allow Pono to stream its catalog at varying levels of audio quality.