Neil Young Wants You to Hear His Unreleased Music Before You Die - Rolling Stone
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Neil Young Wants You to Hear His Unreleased Music Before You Die

“It’s a race against time,” Young writes of his ambitious plan to release a huge cache of unreleased albums to his fans in 2020

Neil Young seen at Lost Planet Editorial on Mon, in Santa Monica, CalifNeil Young Portrait Session, Santa Monica, USA - 09 Sep 2019

Neil Young has outlined an ambitious plan to release an enormous cache of unreleased music onto his Neil Young Archives website in 2020.

Rebecca Cabage/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

A fan recently reached out to Neil Young about his 76-year-old Uncle Eddie, expressing concern that Eddie won’t live long enough to hear all of Young’s archival releases. “That really bums me out,” Young wrote on his archives site, then outlined a potential plan to release an enormous cache of unreleased material to paid subscribers of the Archives long before it’s made available to the general public.

“I have been talking with our team about releasing all [the albums] here at NYA exclusively in 2020,” he writes. “Initially, these albums would not be released as CDs or vinyl. Eventually they may, but they would be here at NYA exclusively in the meantime and there are quite a few of them.”

The current system involves the release of an archival disc like Tuscaloosa, Songs for Judy and Roxy: Tonight’s The Night Live a handful of times per year — unless a new album gets in the way. They hit his Neil Young Archives website at the same time that they are released to streaming platforms and as physical albums.

The unreleased material Young is talking about here includes numerous  albums like 1975’s Homegrown, 1976’s Chrome Dreams, 1977’s Oceanside-Countryside, 1982’s Island in the Sun and 2000’s Toast. There are also several live albums, including 1976’s Odeon Budokan, 1978’s Boarding House, 1986’s Live in a Rusted Out Garage and 2012’s Alchemy. He has also assembled a collection of Danny Whitten-era Crazy Horse recordings he’s calling Early Daze. (The above list is probably just scratching the surface, since he records every concert, soundcheck and studio session — and has for decades.)

Access to the Neil Young Archives currently costs $1.99 per month or $19.99 per year. If he goes through with his big plan, that would change. “This would create a new tier at NYA, possibly including On-Demand videos, movies and records, plus NYA’s exclusive content for Uncle Eddie’s tier (as yet unnamed),” Young writes. “Your subscription price will be higher for this tier. More changes will be added as we discuss this.”

Young continues: “Eventually, over time these NYA exclusive records and films will be released to the public as hard goods and digital files with finished covers and art, but many will have already been available here at NYA long before they become hard goods released to the public by Shakey Pictures or NYA Records.”

One potential issue is the possibility of the material leaking out to the public once it’s made available on the NYA. “Of course we will try to make sure they do not escape into the Internet while they are exclusive to the NYA,” Young writes. “If we can figure this out we will release many of them in 2020. That’s what we are thinking. We will keep you posted when we reach a decision…It’s a race against time.”

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