"'Pono' means the one, the whole," Young said. "It's a Hawaiian word."
The iTunes-like product for distribution of ultra-high-quality digital audio files includes an online store of downloadable files from major and independent labels, a software library that lives on the customer's device and a triangular piece of hardware about the size of a mobile phone that can fit in a pocket and can hold hundreds of albums of high-quality audio.
Musicians and their audiences like the sound, he added, because "Pono is about the music. It's about the people making the music. ... It's about making you hear what we hear."
In a presentation that was billed as a "SXSW Interview," Young prowled and growled his way around the stage solo for about half an hour, flanked by a SXSW backdrop and images on two giant screens. He explained his complaints against CD and mp3 formats, his fixation with creating a better technology that can represent music to the public with all the detail the artists intend, and the launch of his Kickstarter campaign after failing to generate interest from traditional investment channels.
Emphasizing that Pono was about "rescuing an art form," he said, "The venture capitalists couldn't understand this, because they can't own it."
That "rescue" is not an exercise in nostalgia, he insisted. Young aims to create an experience for the the next generation of musicians and listeners that will be even better than the high-quality vinyl analog recordings of his youth, he said.