Apps & Mobile

Neil Young Prepares For Late 2014 PonoMusic Launch As New CEO

PonoplayerLate last week in a shakeup at PonoMusic, Neil Young became CEO while Rick Cohen was named COO. John Hamm stepped down as CEO while remaining an investor. In addition, today Omnifone has announced that their MusicStation platform will be powering the service. They state PonoMusic will launch "before the end of the year" in the US, UK and Canada which suggests that the October delivery of PonoPlayers to pledgers is still on track.

Shakeup At PonoMusic

Last week's announcement that Neil Young has taken charge of PonoMusic was posted as a Kickstarter update. Some supporters seem disturbed by the news and expressed their concerns in the comments.

We don't know what's really going on and despite crowdfunding's touchy feely vibe supporters aren't going to get the same level of transparency as would investors. Plus this is a dream project of Neil Young's so that always adds to the hidden power dynamics that affect such situations.

That said, the team members that are actually building stuff (or closer to those people) are still in place:

"The software and hardware teams within PonoMusic, led by Pedram Abrari and Phil Baker, respectively, will remain in place. Mr. Abrari, SVP of Technology, is a well-respected technology leader in Silicon Valley; Mr. Baker, VP of Product Development and Operations, has developed over 80 consumer technology products over many years of innovative work."

In addition to Neil Young as CEO and Rick Cohen, his longtime associate, as COO, Bruce Botnik is now in charge of content acquisition and will be "spearheading PonoMusic’s relationship with both large and independent labels."

Omnifone To Power PonoMusic

PonoMusic has also partnered with some strong companies so that's a good sign. Today Omnifone announced that MusicStation, their music service platform, will be powering Pono.

They share their take on PonoMusic's progress:

"PonoMusic service, which will launch in the US, UK and Canada before the end of the year, is a complete music ecosystem that includes the purpose-built PonoPlayer, the PonoMusic Media Centre desktop app, and the social music store."

"Pono will soon begin shipping more than 15,000 PonoPlayers to its Kickstarter backers. The players retail at $399. High-resolution digital albums are anticipated to cost between $15 to $25."

Keep in mind that the original date for PonoMusic's launch was early 2014. So, unless employees start exiting without apparent reason, the next landmark is the delivery of PonoPlayers to backers which is now expected in October.


Hypebot Senior Contributor Clyde Smith (@fluxresearch) also blogs at DanceLand. Send news about music tech startups and services, DIY music biz and music marketing to: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.

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