Neil Young Equates Piracy To Radio

    January 31, 2012
    Zach Walton
    Comments are off for this post.

Rovio boss Mikael Hed said that piracy equals exposure. Music legend Neil Young couldn’t agree more.

At the Dive Into Media conference today, Neil Young spoke on music piracy and music quality. He detailed his solution to audio quality and his relationship with Steve Jobs.

Speaking first on the MP3 format, Young said that digital formats are convenient, but they sound lousy. He said that his goal is to “rescue the art form that I’ve been practicing for the past 50 years.” He blames the digital age for the degradation of music quality.

Modern digital formats sound great on my phone and I have no problem with it. Young, however, rightly points out that the digital encoding only captures a small percent of the musical data in a master recording.

Young doesn’t hate digital formats, far from it. He just feels that the “digital age” has caused people to choose between quality and convenience. “They shouldn’t have to make that choice,” Young said.

The solution is hardware that can play audio files that preserve more of the data present in the original recordings according to Young. He isn’t making that solution though. He’s leaving the heavy lifting to “some rich guy” like Steve Jobs.

Speaking of Jobs, Young says that he was a “pioneer of digital music, and his legacy is tremendous.” He says that Jobs listened to vinyl at home after a day’s work. If Jobs were to live long enough as Young has, he’s sure that Jobs would have found a solution.

He then moved onto record companies and whether or not they’re obsolete:

“What I like about record companies is that they present and nurture artists. That doesn’t exist on iTunes, it doesn’t exist on Amazon. That’s what a record company does, and that’s why I like my record company. People look at record companies like they’re obsolete, but there’s a lot of soul in there — a lot of people who care about music, and that’s very important.”

He then said that artists that complain about record companies should go it alone and become indie artists.

At the end of the talk, he tackled the sensitive issue of piracy:

“Piracy is new radio. That’s how music gets around.”

  • Moses

    The problem has nothing to do with hardware: hardware a hundred times more accurate than that of the past exists, either digital or analogue. The problem is storage space. Extremely high quality digital music takes up way too much space to be practical for every day consumers, which is why it has to be compressed, which is why it doesn’t sound as good.

  • chase

    I’d have to agree with Niel on the piracy or more aply termed “file sharing” a means of promo.

    Mp3 is far from an ideal format. Hardware is definitely a player in the puzzle though.

    If you’ve heard a good audiophiles system, you’d want better quality at home or even for portable listening. Mp3 is concurrent with main stream electronics and players. A better format is long been needed.

    Higher end sound cards need more promo to get them in the computers of the everyday listener.

    Those that are serious about the music they listen to, know the difference.

    Storage is at a pricing that makes it readily available. And as the new SHD’s come down, play back will improve both for audio and video.

    The only bad about digital age is many are use to the bad quality now… They need to be shown a clear difference to get them onboard with higher quality.

    A direction I think you’ll find digital heading in now that it’s common place and come of age where it can focus on the quality side rather than the quality side of things.

  • chase

    That should have read:

    A direction I think you’ll find digital heading in

    now that it’s common place and come of age

    where it can focus on the quality side rather

    than the quantity side of things.

    And to further expound a bit…

    Digital media is in every ones hands now. In every home, on every phone. That part has been achieved.

    Timing is right to move to night standards all round in media.

    Once the consumer has something the can compare quality of one to another, at the right price they’ll choose quality every time.

  • Dave Barnett

    I couldn’t agree more. Many artists have recently gone to selling their wares in .flac format, and the difference is incredible compared to mp3. The cost difference is miniscule too. There are certainly some bands that are embracing the technology. Mostly jam-bands, but it’s working its way to the mainstream.

    What I think Neil is talking about here is a format that is better than the CD. Despite all of it’s hype and broad acceptance, it’s still 16-bit with 44.1 KHz sampling. A full digital album of 24-bit, 96 KHz in lossless format equals about 1 GB of storage. At today’s drive prices that is about seven cents in hardware cost.

    The time has come.