Neil Young is in the process of withdrawing his entire catalogue from streaming music services because – as he posted on Facebook last night – “streaming is the worst audio quality in history”.
Stats provided to Music Ally by streaming service Deezer, however, suggest that Young’s fans are seeking out higher-quality streams of his music already, when they’re available.
The stats show how Young ranks as an artist by number of monthly streams on Deezer’s standard “Premium” subscription service, and on its higher-quality Deezer Elite, which streams using the ‘lossless’ Flac audio format.
In June, Young was the 330th most popular artist on Deezer Premium, but the 24th most popular on Deezer Elite. And while his highest rank on Premium was 295th in January 2015, he reached the heights of the fifth most popular artist on Elite in November 2014.
What does this prove? Well, an artist whose views on audio quality are well known appears to be over-indexing on a higher-quality streaming service than on its basic tier – even considering the fact that Deezer Elite has a lot less users than Deezer Premium.
Note that when Deezer Elite rolled out globally in February, it had 25m tracks available in the hi-res Flac format, out of 35m in Deezer’s overall catalogue. So this isn’t just about less artists’ music being available on the higher tier.
In an interview that month, Deezer’s US boss Tyler Goldman said that Elite users were averaging two hours of listening a day – double the one hour averaged by standard users.
“This is obviously a somewhat self-selecting group – these are huge audio enthusiasts so they’re naturally going to be heavy listeners – but the satisfaction quotient is extremely high too,” said Goldman. “65% of them say they won’t go back to MP3-quality music. They’re definitely valuing the sound-quality difference.”
The new stats on Neil Young from Deezer do spark a new question: is there scope for Young to keep his back catalogue on higher-quality streaming services like Deezer Elite, Tidal HiFi and Qobuz, even if he removes it from other services?
“Make streaming sound good and I will be back,” wrote Young last night. We wonder if the three services mentioned above will be reaching out to Young in an attempt to convince him not to go away in the first place. Deezer’s stats certainly suggest Young’s keenest fans are willing to seek out higher-quality streams of his work.