Music Business

Neil Young’s Pono Kickstarter Passes $5.2 Million, But Younger Music Fans Show Little Interest

ponoNeil Young's Kickstarter campaign to launch Pono, a better-audio player and download store, has passed $5.27 million pledged. But younger music fans are showing less interest in Pono than older audio aficionados. Pono will play FLAC files with bit rates up to 9216 kbps.

pono signatureAs a bonus for donating $400 to the Kickstarter campaign, Pono is offering an "Artist Signature Series" chrome PoonoPlayer in limited editions of 500. Signature Series players by Crosby Stills & Nash, Tom Petty and Pearl Jam and Young himself have each sold out. Elton John's has less than 75 left. Herbie Hancock, Willie Nelson, James Taylor, Metallica, Patti Smith have sold 350 or more each.  

But players that would attract a younger fanbase are not fairing as well. Fans of Portugal The Man have bought just 1 of their 500 Signature PonoPlayers; and Kings of Leon fans have purchased just 9. Tegan and Sara fans bought 38 Signature players to date; and My Morning Jacket fans have signed up for just 81. 

Problem For Pono?

To be fair, just one die-hard Kenny Roger's fan has put down $400 for his player. But still, the overall trend could point to challenges ahead for Pono. Will younger music listeners, who have grown up only hearing 128 bit audio, care enough about quality to pay more, even as their own paychecks grow?

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10 Comments

  1. 1) Audiophile aficionados think that everyone cares about hi quality audio, but history has shown us that most of the market is happy to accept “good enough” audio. There is a niche here, but it’s limited. Very limited.
    2) How the hell would a music fan – young or old – be expected to put this bulky, awkwardly shaped player in their pocket? It screams “don’t carry me around.” And which music fan on the go wants that from their music player in 2014?

  2. tony-“Audiophiles think that everyone cares about hi quality audio”
    where in the world do you come up with that theory ? Audiophiles are the first ones to adknowlege that the general public doesn’t even know the difference between high quality audio and complete garbage.
    secondly. the Pono is NOT designed to carry in your pocket, but to sit flat.
    Any other theories you would like to share ?

  3. I am looking forward to it and am actually happy it’s not designed to go in your pocket. Even with the best audio player, the infrared emissions/reflections that cause distortion in the audio cable from other things in your pockets (think about it: metal keys, your phone, vitamins containing iron) affect the sound in unacceptable ways. A really good music player should be sitting on the table, NOT buried in your pocket!

  4. IR reflections that cause distortion in audio cables ?? You have no clue how things actually work do you ? Your words are obviously not limited by any real knowledge about the subject. Please stop talking BS about things you do not have any a clue about. Yeah you heard the difference, actually that’s your brain thinking it sounds better.

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