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Neil Young Recruits Bruce Springsteen, Dave Grohl for Pono Kickstarter

Eddie Vedder, Tom Petty, Sting, Jack White, Elton John among musicians lending support for new digital service

March 11, 2014 7:25 PM ET
Neil Young
Neil Young
Steve Granitz/WireImage

Neil Young launched a Kickstarter campaign Tuesday to raise funds for his new digital music service and player Pono, bringing in Bruce Springsteen, Eddie Vedder, David Crosby, James Taylor, Tom Petty, Sting and a slew of other musical icons to provide testimonial to the new service in an accompanying video.

Neil Young Stuns With a Spellbinding Carnegie Hall Show

"Pono is about the music," Young said in the video below. "It’s about the people who make the music and the way it sounds to us when we’re in the studio making it. It’s about you hearing what we hear. And that hasn’t happened in a long time. I want to bring back real music. That’s why we’re on Kickstarter. So that everyone who loves music can share in the release of Pono and the launch of the real music experience in the 21st century."

The video also features glowing testimonials by Beck, Norah Jones, Rick Rubin, Jack White, Arcade Fire, Anthony Kiedis, Flea, Dave Grohl, Elvis Costello, Beastie Boys’ Mike D, Elton John, Jackson Browne, Dave Matthews, Patti Smith, Kid Rock and Mumford & Sons’ Marcus Mumford.

In the video, Young discusses his idea of "underwater listening," comparing a MP3 to listening to music 1,000 feet underwater and a Compact Disc 200 feet underwater. With Warner Music Group converting thousands of albums from its archives to the Pono-friendly 192 kHz and 24-bit sound, Young contends that listening to music at 192kHz is like being above sea level. "This is like rescuing it," he tells Beck later in the video. "It’s an artist-driven movement to take it back."

The company’s Kickstarter page is looking to raise $800,000 by April 15, with prizes including a "VIP Dinner & Listening Party With Neil Young" and limited edition Pono players signed by Arcade Fire, Pearl Jam, Beck, Foo Fighters and others.   

"PonoMusic is not a new audio file format or standard," the company wrote on their Kickstarter page. "PonoMusic is an end-to-end ecosystem for music lovers to get access to and enjoy their favorite music exactly as the artist created it, at the recording resolution they chose in the studio. We offer PonoMusic customers the highest resolution digital music available. PonoMusic is more than just a high-resolution music store and player; it is a grassroots movement to keep the heart of music beating. PonoMusic aims to preserve the feeling, spirit, and emotion that the artists put in their original studio recordings."

The player will contain 128 gigabytes of memory, which can store between 1,000 and 2,000 high-resolution songs, depending on the resolution and length of the recording. The device will also accept memory cards, which can hold more music and playlists.

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Song Stories

“Whoomp! (There It Is)”

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Cecil Glenn — a.k.a., "D.C." — was a cook at Magic City, a nude dance club in Atlanta, when he first heard women shout "Whoomp — there it is!" Inspired by the party chant, he and partner Steve "Roll'n" Gibson wrote a song around it. Undaunted by label rejections, they borrowed $2,500 from Glenn's parents and pressed 800 singles, which quickly sold out in the Atlanta area. A record deal came soon after. Glenn said the song was meant for positive partying. "If you're going to say 'Whoomp there it is,' and you're doing something negative, we'd rather it not have come out of your mouth."

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