Neil Young Equates Piracy To Radio

    January 31, 2012

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.”