Neil Young Announcement - Blu-Ray is the way

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Bob Romano

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SAN FRANCISCO, California (AP) -- Rocker Neil Young plans to release his entire music archive on Blu-ray discs, a sign that the discs' capabilities are building appeal among musicians as well as movie studios.

Most of the Blu-ray discs manufactured so far have been used for high-definition movies.

Blu-ray discs hold much more data than DVDs, are easily updated over the Internet and offer better picture and sound quality.

Young revealed his plans Tuesday at a Sun Microsystems Inc. conference in San Francisco.

Santa Clara-based Sun makes the Java technology that gives Blu-ray discs their interactive menus and ability to accept updates over an Internet connection.

The first installment of Young's archive will cover the years 1963 to 1972 and will be released as a 10-disc set this fall on Reprise/Warner Bros. Records.

Young said the archives will be released chronologically and include some previously unreleased songs, videos, handwritten manuscripts and other memorabilia, in addition to the high-resolution audio that Blu-ray technology is known for.

Fans can download more content like songs, photos and tour information directly to the Blu-ray discs as the content becomes available.

Blu-ray's rival format HD DVD effectively died with maker Toshiba Corp.'s announcement in February that it will no longer produce HD DVD players.

Most of the Blu-ray discs manufactured so far have been used for high-definition movies.

Musical artists such as AC/DC, Bruce Springsteen and Destiny's Child released concert videos on Blu-ray discs, but Young's support of the technology for his ambitious archive project demonstrates more fully the capabilities of Blu-ray as a music medium.

Earlier technology didn't offer the ability to browse archive material while listening to songs in high-resolution audio, Young noted.

"Previous technology required unacceptable quality compromises," he said in a statement. "I am glad we waited and got it right."

I don't get the part about the internet unless he is thinking that everyone will have a Blu-Ray burner.

SAN FRANCISCO--At JavaOne here, Neil Young showed off his multimedia project that chronicles his music career and uses Java to do so.

Neil Young and Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz
(Credit: Dan Farber/CNET News.com)
Young said he tried to do the project on DVD, but users couldn't watch the high-resolution video and listen to the music at the same time. With Java and Blu-ray, the content can be updated and offer the best viewing and listening experience, as well as great navigation and design. "Storage is the only limit," Young said, and recommended the Sony's PlayStation 3 as the best way to view his project.

Users will be able to download any archival materials, which are automatically assigned to their place in a chronological time line, Young said.

In a meeting with a few press members following the JavaOne keynote, Young talked about the Archive project, which goes back to the late 1980s. The first stage, he said, was collecting the materials.

"I am kind of a pack rat," he said, adding that over the years he's accumulated a lot of unreleased material. "I only give the record company what I want people to hear at the time. So I have a lot of unreleased material. Putting it all together tells a much different story than just what has been produced (for public consumption)."

The compilation of the unpublished clips helps show Young's musical evolution, the effects of success, and the ups and downs, he said. In the beginning, he said, he was nervous and talked a lot, but was very focused on singing his songs. "I'd make a lot of jokes and then sing a tear-jerker song."

Young was asked how music and technology go together. "There is a lot of math; it is emotional math," he replied.

Larry Johnson, of Shakey Films (which works on all of Young's films), said Young had the concept for his latest project on paper 15 years ago. About two years ago, they put the footage all together and waited for the Blu-ray HD-DVD fight to end.

"We are cramming the disc full with every feature we can," Young said.

They started off envisioning it to be something like a video game, a "3D tumbling experience through time," he said. "You could see the history of the world and other great performances through time. It would be a nice thing to do. Hopefully we will get this approach done, but by the time we are halfway through, it will morph."

"Putting on a headphone and listening to MP3 is like hell."
--Neil Young
"The recording business as we know it is changing. As an artist I try to remove myself from the business," Young said. "I steer myself away from that...the commerce of distributing music will work itself out."

He added: "We are trying to give them quality whether they want it or not. You can degrade it as much as you want, we just don't want our name on it." People are taking music and doing whatever they want with it, he said. "The laws don't matter. These are people in their bedroom doing what they want. It's the new radio."

Young said you can't be "scared or paranoid about trying to survive." Sure, when the digital revolution came along, it was "like getting hit with icepicks." Now, he said, the ice is tiny, maybe a little like snow.

That said, he's clearly not a fan of MP3 quality: "Putting on a headphone and listening to MP3 is like hell," he said.

Of course, digital and multitrack recordings in the '80s didn't sound so great either. The sound was shallow, he said. Now, he said, audio quality is climbing, though he still makes all his recordings in analog. "I plan to dumb my analog to the higher level so masses can enjoy it," he said.

Besides music, Young is working with engineers and developers to create a car that doesn't require roadside refueling. He is working with a variety of developers and scientists to develop a large, American-style car that doesn't require fossil fuels. "I have trained myself to take this on," he said.

"America is full of big people; it's a huge country and the wind blows. I don't want to have cars blown off the road with high winds," Young said. "We work with aerodynamics, and there's the X Prize effort to get 100 miles per gallon." Scientists are working on interesting concepts such as cars running on compressed air with stackable motors on the wheels, he said. Other solutions are more fringe.

"It's very kooky. People say you are nuts but I am used to that," he said. "People are so paranoid about the power establishment. That's what they think about when you come up with an idea that is going to bring change."


Young said that he wasn't interested in the Tesla, a sporty and expensive electric car. "The Tesla isn't ready to buy yet--you have to plug it in," he said.

Young said that he is an "overseer" more than carrying on a day-to-day role in his electric car project.

He lauded the Internet because it's a great place to find science experts all over the world. "People who are just kooks," he said. "You have to filter and separate and look on the perimeter of scientific world and give them encouragement."

Young is planning to chronicle the damage cars are doing to the environment and the development of a car that doesn't require roadside fueling in a new movie. The car will be wired to the gills, with all kinds of sensors and cameras feeding data, Young said.

On surveillance, Young said, "Surveillance society is out of control. There is nothing you can do. You can fight it...there will be an ongoing battle for privacy."
 

EMB

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Very interesting. Wonder if he gave up on 5.1, or is there hope a few titles might be remixed for MC? Thought it a pity he released some DVD-A's in stereo only, HARVEST certainly proved the *potential* for great NY surround....

ED :)
 

ClarkNovak

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Yeah. If there is multichannel content on these discs, I might have to revisit my decision to wait on Blu-Ray. Hearing, say "Cinnamon Girl" or "Helpless" or "Flying On The Ground Is Wrong" in 5.1 would be like nirvana...
 

JonUrban

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The reason the NY Stereo DVD-A's had no surround mix was that NY did not have the time to do them, and he wanted to do them himself.

I would guess that again he has no time for it, so I wouldn't hold my breath, although we could be suprised - if and when these come out. They've been "on the way" since his Geffen years.

There is a reason that "Four Strong Winds" is one of his favorite songs - he changes his mind like the wind.........

Still, he's my favorite artist, and I'll be first in line for these Blu-Rays! :D
 

Chris Gerhard

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If he can't do surround, why bother with Blu-ray? I think it is more likely than not that surround will be used when it can be done properly. Neil is always considering quality with any of his releases.

Chris
 

splinter7

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I love his music there is no doubt to that.
However, I think that his initial enthusiasm on his big ideas turns towards procrastination and then it is onto the next big idea. I say we see a SACD of PF’s Wish You Were Here before we see a release of Neil’s archived project in any format.
 

natiahs

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Neil seems very interested in maximum sound quality and minimally interested in surround reworkings, so I would expect these to be stereo-only releases. Especially given that they're slated to be released in 4 months or so and remixing that many albums would add considerable time and expense to the project. They should sound excellent, though.

On a side note, I find it interesting that Nine Inch Nails used a Blu-ray disc for the 96/24 version of "In Ghosts" but chose to release the 96/24 version of "The Slip" as a downloadable 1.2GB file.

N
 

natiahs

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I don't get the part about the internet unless he is thinking that everyone will have a Blu-Ray burner.

I believe he's talking about Profile 2 and its ability to download additional content after the release of the disk. I tried it with Walk Hard and was generally pleased with the results - downloaded content is stored in memory and can be watched later without having to be re-downloaded. I think Profile 2 only requires 1GB of storage in the player, though, limiting the number of extra features that be stored simultaneously (I use a 200GB PS3 so storage is not an immediate concern in my case).

N
 

dobyblue

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Yeah downloadable to your player, but you can also add additional storage to the player through USB.

It sounds like all the audio on these sets will be 24/192. No mention of stereo or surround.
 

EMB

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Lots more questions than answers. For one thing, IF these will be standard stereo releases, barring any remixing, there is still mono on the plate, as in early demos, and certain songs(like "Sugar Mountain," "Oh Lonesome Me," "War Song," "Campaigner")that were never mixed to stereo. And are we getting any Springfield material, or demos? Even if this is stereo-based, could be good stuff, but the announcement really tells us very little except titles are coming, so we get to speculate until(or if)they hit the streets.

ED :)
 

JonUrban

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Guess that answers the question about the Buffalo Springfield stuff! :D
 

bmoura

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Yeah. If there is multichannel content on these discs, I might have to revisit my decision to wait on Blu-Ray. Hearing, say "Cinnamon Girl" or "Helpless" or "Flying On The Ground Is Wrong" in 5.1 would be like nirvana...

That was my question as well. Is he talking Stereo or Multichannel ?
 

Bob Romano

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The latest article from AudioVideo Revolution:

Neil Young To Release His Music Catalog on Blu-ray
Home Theater News Blu-ray Software News
Written by Jerry Del Colliano
Thursday, 08 May 2008

Neil Young, the “Grandfather of Grunge” looks to add the title of “Pioneer of Blu-ray” to his resume with an announcement today that he will be releasing his entire catalog on the Blu-ray format. Up until now, record labels have stuck their heads in the sand with any high definition formats, having been lured by the not-so-profitable world of selling music by the download.

Young, by releasing his entire catalog, understands clearly that today’s music buyer doesn’t just listen to an album or a single song as much as they listen to an entire genre. The major record labels, when failing miserably with half-assed efforts in promoting and developing DVD-Audio and SACD, never released any sizable amounts of content from any one artist. Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon was made for SACD and even sold over 1,000,000 copies as a hybrid SACD/CD, yet The Wall, Wish You Were Here and Animals were never remixed, remastered or ever released on the high resolution format. Metallica’s “Black Album” was released by Warner Bros. on DVD-Audio (and sounded horrible despite being a cool record) and was never followed up with any of the band’s critically acclaimed back catalog titles. Led Zeppelin, one of the best selling bands ever, had a DVD-Audio release from a 1975 live show that also sounded terrible. None of the first four Zeppelin records we ever remastered, remixed for surround or released to support the DVD-Audio format. Consumers looked at the value proposition of buying a $1,000 player, the need for additional electronics and handfuls of cables and said, "no thank you" quite enthusiastically. They want entire genres of music, full catalogs in high definition before they spend their money. Many consumers are proving they are willing to spend on Blu-ray players and software, not to mention HD video games, HD sports packages and HD movie channels from cable and satellite providers.

Blu-ray as a format solves most, if not all, of the problems that underperforming major record label executives complained about with DVD-Audio and SACD. Blu-ray players today are relatively cheap in comparison to DVD-Audio and SACD players with Sony’s Blu-ray based Playstation 3 offering the cheapest point of entry currently. Recent reports show Blu-ray already has eight percent market penetration, which is exponentially higher than anything DVD-Audio or SACD could boast no matter how hard any label or electronics company tried to cook the books. DVD-Video, as a format has 91 percent market share, but to get from zero to eight percent is truly a feat this early in the game. With HD DVD out of the way and players getting cheaper this coming holiday season, the Blu-ray market share will continue to grow at a rapid clip. Even more impressive is the fact that Blu-ray is an HD video format. DVD-Audio has standard definition video and amazingly SACD had no video at all on the disc. Most importantly, (as if anybody wanted to steal music in surround sound) Blu-ray has one-cable connectivity via HDMI that is copy protected in a way that makes it pretty damn hard to steal. The labels could only hope for enough consumer demand that people wanted to take the time to try to steal these large, high definition audio tracks from Blu-ray. It would be a sign of success that they haven’t seen in two decades.

Neil Young’s announcement today should serve as a wake-up call to major recording companies as how to get back to making money selling their back catalog. For the love of god, the records have been paid for decades ago and Generation Xers and Baby Boomers have proven they will spend to buy them over and over again, but not when the resolution is at CD quality or in the case of an “HD download” a mere one quarter of CD quality. That won’t fly. Selling entire volumes, entire catalogs, and entire genres of music in HD is a path to success for the music business. Ask companies like Vizio with who have gone from zero to two billion dollars in sales doing nothing but selling HD if they think there is anything to the idea of selling people content in HD.

The question is: have the majors hit rock bottom with selling music by the low-res download and out-dated Compact Disc by 2008? Are they over the fears of people stealing their content when in fact they just ignore their content? Only time will tell. But if you ask this former CD/DVD-Audio/SACD buying addict, there is no downside to selling back catalog records on Blu-ray. The movie studios are doing it and will profit wildly from it – so why shouldn't the record labels?
 

atrocity

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I don't get the part about the internet unless he is thinking that everyone will have a Blu-Ray burner.

That jumped out at me immediately. Worse, they repeat it two more times and keep making it sound as if data can be permanently added to the disc. Stupid.
 

atrocity

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I say we see a SACD of PF’s Wish You Were Here before we see a release of Neil’s archived project in any format.

I don't know if this means anything at all, but...when I decided to buy myself a domain several years back, I settled on "wywh.com" since it's been my favorite album for so long.

Just yesterday someone from a "broker" offered to buy the domain name from me. The amount offered wasn't nearly enough to make up for what a nuisance it would be, so I declined.

Of course, my first thought was that Pink Floyd or EMI wanted the domain to plug the SACD, but I'm sure that's wishful thinking on multiple levels. IMDB also says there's a movie due out in 2009 called "Wish You Were Here".

It's been 24 hours since I turned the offer down, so whoever wants it either doesn't want it that badly or doesn't have deep pockets. Or the whole thing was a scam, though the amount mentioned seems unlikely to excite the gullible.
 

dobyblue

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Another great article from Jerry Del Colliano.
The future of high resolution music and surround music has great potential.
:sun

That jumped out at me immediately. Worse, they repeat it two more times and keep making it sound as if data can be permanently added to the disc. Stupid.

Data can be permanently added to your player though.
If you keep a USB with "NEil Young 1964" on it for example, anytime you put that 1964 disc in and want to access the extra content from the internet, it will be immediate through your USB key - you won't have to download anything again. You could also add an external drive too for more permanent storage or in the case of the PS3 put in a 300GB 2.5" drive and keep all your BD-Live stuff on that.

Is it perfect? No. Will it solve double dipping? Absolutely.
 
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