While I frequently review hardware and software products, this week I’m reviewing an incredible website that’s like no other. Full disclosure, its a site I’ve been working on for several years with a talented team and now manage. It’s neilyoungarchives.com, (abbreviated as NYA) a site whose vision, concept, inspiration, design, scope, and essentially every detail can be attributed to the famous musician, Neil Young. It’s been live for two years, but has constantly evolved with new features, more content and lots of additions, and this year is experiencing its biggest growth ever. Yearly subscription costs $20, while many of the visual features and some limited content can be accessed for free.
I chose to review it in celebration of Neil’s 75th birthday on November 12.
Unlike a physical archive that requires a real visit with travel and admission fees, such as Bob Dylan’s Archive at the University of Tulsa, NYA is accessible to his fans, musicians, historians, and anybody from their computer screen from around the world. It’s open 24/7, 365 days a year. And unlike a physical archive, it has no limitation to how much material it can contain. It’s a perfect use of the Internet, bringing sight and sound to millions. That was part of Neil’s motivation for building the site: to give back to his fans for the recognition they brought to him all these years, and to provide a very special place where he and his fans could reach out to each other.
NYA contains audio tracks of all of Neil’s albums that can be listened to on demand in a unique hi-res audio format, essentially up to 20x higher quality than normal streaming. His music can be accessed by browsing through a file cabinet drawer or viewed along a timeline spanning his entire career. Once you find his album, you can listen to it, view the lyrics, see the credits and examine handwritten notes, photos and clippings relating to that album. Recently added are outtakes that are specific recordings that never made it to the album, but provide an insight into the recording process. This month full length recordings of his concerts will be added to the timeline. Live concerts are the events that many of us remember and often associate with important events in our lives. So posted with each concert, will be a notebook with personal notes that Neil’s fans have submitted.
NYA also contains hundreds of videos, ranging from Neil’s full length movies and live performances to recently-recorded concerts Neil made for all of us isolating at home. They are rotated weekly and appear in the site’s 3-screen Hearse Theater. This is an area that’s being expanded to provide additional content that can be more easily accessed in new ways.
Neil has always had a love of newspapers and created his very own that’s an important part of the site. Called the Times-Contrarian, it has ten pages of material that’s updated daily by Neil. It includes music news, politics, tech, religion, art, BLM, and much more. It’s also where you can find personal correspondence between Neil and his fans that are always topical.
The site has been called a Revolution in Fandom by the Guardian, but I would encourage you to just visit. No sign in is required. You’ll be able to experience all of the features covered above and listen to a song of the day, album of the week, and the video, Looking for a Leader, a topical song for the times.