Since the rise of streaming began to take over, the singer has repeatedly decried not the royalty rates that other artists are upset with, but the poor sound quality offered by most companies in the space. Last July, Young released a statement on his Facebook page announcing he was pulling his entire catalog from all streaming services, writing, "I don't need my music to be devalued by the worst quality in the history of broadcasting or any other form of distribution."
Now, less than a year later, Young has reversed course, as his entire catalog -- 57 albums, including his 125-song Archives Volume I [1963 - 1972] set -- is available to stream on Tidal.
If sound quality was the issue all along, Tidal had the answer with its $19.99/month high-fidelity streaming option, boasting better sound quality for those willing to pay for it. But curiously, Young's catalog is also available via Tidal's standard (which it calls "premium") $9.99/month option, an about-face for the veteran rocker. As of press time, it was unclear how long Young's catalog has been available on the service. A rep for Young declined to comment.
Tidal's strategy of going after exclusive content has begun bearing fruit of late with the rollouts of Rihanna's Anti, Kanye West's The Life of Pablo and Beyonce's Lemonade helping boost the service from 1 million subscribers last September to 3 million by the end of March. And its status as the exclusive streaming home of Prince's entire catalog also likely provided a boost after the Purple One's sudden death on April 21 -- particularly as Prince has been notoriously protective of his digital footprint in the past decade.
In recent years, Young has been pushing his new company Pono, a combined digital music download service and portable player that focuses on delivering high-quality master files. In another Facebook note last August, he called Pono a labor of love. “Music matters and sound matters," he wrote. "Not just any music or any sound. It needs to have all of its resonance, all of its echo, all of its soul, and you can’t get it from downgraded super compressed files which are so ubiquitous today."
Never one to stay idle, Young announced Thursday (April 28) that he's set to release a new album called EARTH, a 13-song, 98-minute collection of recordings made during his Monsanto Years tour last year. Comprised of selected catalog songs, Young overdubbed sounds of car horns, sounds of insects, bears, birds, crickets, bees, horses and cows that he said in a press release are "well-represented" and "actually take over the performances of the songs at times." The album, due June 17 via Reprise Records, is likely to also appear on Tidal.