Guest post by David Murray, program chairman, Strategic Video Awards
The “Godfather of Grunge” wants to clean up the sound of your music downloads. Neil Young, the legendary rock guitarist whose career has spanned over 45 years, is cranking out patents and inventions like a modern-day Ben Franklin. He recently converted his 1959 Lincoln Continental into an electrical hybrid car, and now he’s trying to revolutionize digital audio and video for the Internet. He is trademarking a revolutionary new high-definition (HD) audio format that he hopes will replace the popular MP3 music file format. He has also submitted patent requests for a corresponding HD audio and video player for his new music file format, plus a cloud-based online music store.
Rolling Stone reports that Neil Young’s new digital audio format will be called Studio Quality Sound (SQS), and will make your online music sound every bit as crisp and clear as it sounds in the recording studio. While this suite of online audio and video products is still in the trademark application phase, we know some of the products involved have names like “21st Century Record Player,” “Storage Shed,” and “Thanks for Listening.”
Digital Audio Quality Clearer Than MP3
The MP3 music file format has seen some cool innovations in recent years, like the ability to convert video to MP3 audio files. Still, an MP3 is a compressed file wherein CODECs are used to eliminate much of the sound file’s data. While this makes the file easier to download, some audio quality is lost in the trade-off.
On a statement on his website, Young says, “2012 will be the year that record companies release High Resolution Audio…Since the advent of the CD, listeners have been deprived of the full experience of listening. With the introduction of MP3s via online music services, listeners were further deprived.”
Neil Young Worked With Steve Jobs On A Music Player
The late Steve Jobs shared Young’s passion for high-resolution audio, and apparently the two had been working together to bring this technology to a future iPod model. Young has been quoted at D: Dive Into Media conference saying, “Steve Jobs was a pioneer of digital music, but when he went home, he listened to vinyl. And you’ve gotta believe that if he’d lived long enough, he would eventually have done what I’m trying to do.”
When former Apple CEO, Jobs, passed in October 2011, the collaboration between the two ended. Young may be after more than just improved audio quality since included in the trademark application is a mention of “online and retail store services” and “high-resolution music downloadable from the Internet.”
High Resolution Video Of Concerts
This trademark application also details features like “high-resolution discs featuring music and video” and “audio and video recording storage.” Clearly there will be a video component, and a corresponding online video player is specifically mentioned in the application. The “21st Century Record Player” might likely be equipped with a video screen, as iPods have conditioned today’s listeners to expect the ability to upload and play video files on a music device.
The filings indicate that Young’s proposed online music store would be primarily cloud- based. Live video recordings of concert performances might be one of the more novel features included in this suite of products. It’s been reported that album sales have dropped by half over the last ten years; concert ticket sales during this period have more than doubled. It is clear listeners have a growing interest in live music, and Neil Young’s online music project may deliver high-resolution concert footage tailored to satisfy this interest.
What Young’s audio and video plans are won’t be clear until the trademarks are registered and made public late this year. If his vision for high-resolution audio and video can be implemented and easily distributed, then digital music can “keep on rockin’ in the free world” with sound quality every bit as good as what the musicians and engineers hear in the recording studio.