Neil 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.
As 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?