I always thought Neil Young was a musical genius. To this day, I can listen to track after track and be taken away by his dreamy imagery and musicianship.
But I’ll be honest, I never thought Neil was a marketing genius until now.
If you’ve missed the news about his Pono music player (Pono meaning “righteous” in Hawaiian), then you’ve missed some awesome, guerrilla marketing tactics.
The Pono music player has been honed for the audiophiles of the world, seeking the purest digital sound possible. Instead of diminished MP3 tracks, the Pono Music store (which will open in October) will sell lossless FLAC audio files, at a higher bit rate than traditional digital files. The claim is that the listener can “feel” the music as if it’s alive in a three dimensional world, unlike the flatly presented MP3.
I liken myself as an audiophile, so when the Pono team began a Kickstarter campaign for the product, I had to dig a little deeper.
What’s amazing to me is that, despite the devices shortfalls, people are ordering them in droves.
For example: The Pono player can’t really fit in your pocket, the thing is shaped like a long triangular tube. If you are storing FLAC files to the highest rate (192/24), your player could maybe hold 100 albums per memory card. That’s not a lot for an audiophile. What’s more, the separate music device is an old way of thinking. People listen on their phones or through a cloud based system on their mobile and computer devices. Neil and his crew are asking us to take a step back to a more rudimentary process. Seems crazy, doesn’t it?
But despite those blaring limitations, I still need one of these blasted things. Here’s why.
Who doesn’t want to be a part of that colossal group of musicians proclaiming the devices greatness? I know I do. In fact, I couldn’t wait until October, so I bought a lesser marketed, ultra high definition player called the FIOS X3 for the meantime. I have convinced myself that I can hear the difference in quality from a normal MP3 and a FLAC, but truth be told, I don’t really know if I can.
Yet, that still doesn’t matter because, as a music nut, I gotta have the best goods around, and I am not alone. The initial Kickstarter goal was $800,000. In one day alone, the goal was shattered and Neil garnered $2 million dollars in backing. With 19 days left, they’ve run out of the initial 10,000 units. Which is just incredible.
Nicely done, Neil. I believe, even though a part of me feels like maybe I don’t need to.