Young founded the company, but until recently its chief executive was veteran tech executive John Hamm, one of its investors. Now Young is replacing him ahead of the company's commercial launch later in the year.
Young helped to persuade more than 18,000 people to back PonoMusic's Kickstarter in March. The company is making a portable digital music player called PonoPlayer, as well as an online store that will sell music downloads at a higher resolution than rivals like Apple's iTunes.
"PonoMusic has been a mission of mine for many, many years, and I’m more passionate than ever about the prospects for its success," said Young in a statement posted as an update on Kickstarter.
"I want to use my time and abilities to bring the fullness of music, as the artists created it, to as many music fans as possible."
Young is building a team of trusted executives around him ahead of PonoMusic's full launch, with the first PonoPlayers due to ship in October.
PonoMusic is working with British music technology firm Omnifone on its store, which the latter company says will launch in the US, UK and Canada by the end of 2014. Albums are expected to cost between $15 and $25 on the store.
Young has appointed longtime adviser Rick Cohen as chief operating officer, and music producer Bruce Botnick as head of content acquisition, in charge of signing deals with music labels to add their albums to the PonoMusic store.
Former Apple exec Phil Baker, who led teams working on its PowerBook computers and the second-generation Newton tablet between 1994 and 1997, is PonoMusic's vice president of product development and operations.
Some Kickstarter backers have expressed concern at the timing of the changes, as well as Young's new role.
"I'm a great admirer of Neil Young, but it's a matter of record that we backed a company with him as its creative visionary, not its CEO," wrote one, in a comment on the company's update.
"I undoubtedly love Neil and know he's a smart guy, but I am concerned 1) whether his very hectic music career will allow him the proper time to serve as the CEO and 2) whether he has the professional experience to properly serve as the CEO of a corporation," wrote another.
With the promotional campaign out of the way for Young's most recent album, A Letter Home, time commitments may be less of a concern than the second question, which besides covering the launch of PonoMusic's hardware and store, also relates to the company's ability to raise more funding from traditional investors if required.
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