The Neil Young Archives is a longtime project by singer-songwriter Neil Young which started as a series of archival releases featuring previously released as well as unreleased studio and live recordings, and eventually developed into a website featuring almost the whole Young's recording output throughout his career, available for streaming in high resolution audio format. The project has been long in the making - work began in the late 1980s. Throughout its development, Young himself has made several statements about the material included, release dates, and marketing that have proven false as the project was modified for new multimedia formats and expanded upon to accommodate new releases or other relevant material. Young has said that there will be five volumes covering approximately 50 years.
The archives are divided into several series. The main part is a series of box sets covering separate periods of the artist's career. The Performance Series consists of individual releases of live material. Finally, there is the Special Edition series which will consist of previously unreleased albums. These different series also overlap; since, for example, two volumes of the Performance Series are included on the first Archives box set release, but are also sold separately.
As of 2019, Neil Young has launched a subscription website and application where all of his music is available to stream in high resolution audio. The Neil Young Archives also include his newspaper, The Times-Contrarian, The Hearse Theater, and photos and memorabilia throughout his career.
The first volume, The Archives Vol. 1 1963-1972, was released June 2, 2009, covering Young's early years with The Squires and Buffalo Springfield, as well as cuts, demos, outtakes and alternate mixes from his albums Neil Young, Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, After the Gold Rush, and Harvest. Also included in the set are several live discs, as well as a DVD of the long out-of-print film Journey Through the Past, directed by Young in the early 1970s.
Volume 1 was released as a set of 10 Blu-ray discs in order to present high resolution audio as well as accompanying visual documentation. It is also available as a 10 disc DVD set and an 8-CD set. On January 31, 2010, the box set won the Grammy Award for Best Art Direction on a Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package, and was shared by Neil Young along with his art directors Gary Burden and Jenice Heo.
Young's manager Elliot Roberts said in 2009 that Volume 2 would span 1972 through 1982, and would be released "two or three years" after Volume 1. In October 2009, Young told Guitar World that a disc called Time Fades Away II would be included in the second volume, noting: "It's interesting because [Time Fades Away II] has a different drummer than what was on that album. Kenny Buttrey was in there for the first half, and Johnny Barbata came in for the second. It's a completely different thing, with completely different songs." Young has said that "four unreleased albums from this period are being rebuilt ... Chrome Dreams, Homegrown and Oceanside-Countryside are the three unreleased studio albums. Also from this period is the unreleased Odeon-Budokan live recording produced by David Briggs and Tim Mulligan".
In May 2014, Young stated that Volume 2 would be finished by the summer, and that the remaining volumes would be issued relatively quickly following the second. In July 2016, Rolling Stone and the Thrasher's Wheat website reported that Young intends to focus on completing Archives Volume 2 after his tour with Promise of the Real concludes in October. Although a physical release is still planned, it will involve a "high-resolution website" and will also include unreleased works entitled Dume and Hitchhiker. Hitchhiker was released as a standalone album on September 8, 2017. In August 2018, in response to an enquiring fan in the 'Letters to the Editor' section of the NYA Times-Contrarian area of his website, Neil had the following to say: "May 2019 the NYA V2 CDs and a separate book by Toshi Onuki will be available. Blu Ray is no longer viable for economic reasons. NYA can give you what the blu ray had though, including Hi Res audio. Thanks NY."
In September 2018, March and April 2019, in response to other fans enquiring on its release in the 'Letters to the Editor' section of the NYA, Neil Young stated: "We are currently reviewing all of the unreleased albums from the Volume 2 period, which is the seventies. 'Songs for Judy' was one of those. 'Oceanside Countryside' is another. We are reviewing the others." ; "NYA vol 2 late this year/before Christmas. Odeon-Budokon is on volume 2 as an album." ; "Volume two has so much content that we have made it into two sets. The first is about ten discs and will include 'Odeon-Budokon'. The set covers about 4 or 5 years of intense recording and creativity."
In March of 2020, Young confirmed Volume 2 for release on July 24 of that year.
Little information about Volume 3 of the Archives has been announced. However, the website for Young's Living With War album contains several live recordings of songs from Life, which the page cites as being "From The Neil Young Archives, Volume 3."
Volume 4 will likely feature tracks from the 1990s.
Elliot Roberts and Neil Young have said that the Archives project will extend into a fifth volume, which should include songs from 2009's Fork in the Road and the unreleased Toast album, which was recorded with Crazy Horse in 2000.
The series of box sets were preceded by individual concert releases, dubbed the Archives Performance Series. This section contains details of releases so far. The releases are ordered in chronological order of recording. The albums were released in a different order, with Volume 2 coming in 2006, Volume 3 in 2007 and Volume 1 included in the first Archives box.
Sugar Mountain - Live at Canterbury House 1968 is labeled Volume 00 in the Performance Series, but was the third in the series to be released. It features recordings from Young's solo acoustic performances at Canterbury House on 9-10 November 1968. The album was released on December 2, 2008.
Volume 1 is entitled Live at the Riverboat 1969 and is taken from a series of shows at the Riverboat Coffeehouse in Toronto in February, 1969, recorded by Brian Ahern. The CD was released as part of the Archives Vol. 1 in June 2009. Chrome Dreams II from certain retailers also included a bonus CD with a preview track from the Riverboat. Different outlets had different CDs, each with a different preview track.
Live at the Fillmore East, released in November 2006, features a March 1970 concert with Crazy Horse. The album was released on CD, LP and DVD with high definition 24/96 sound accompanied by still images from the concert.
Live at the Cellar Door was recorded in Washington D.C. during six-show between November 30 and December 2, 1970. This was released on December 10, 2013.
A solo acoustic performance from January 1971, Live at Massey Hall 1971, saw release in March 2007. The album was released on LP, CD and DVD Video with the DVD version including high definition sound accompanied by 8mm film footage, which sourced from the Stratford, CT concert three days later (January 22, 1971).
Tuscaloosa is a live album featuring recordings from the concert at Tuscaloosa, Alabama on the 1973 tour with The Stray Gators, during which Time Fades Away was recorded. The album was released on June 7, 2019. Young has since stated on his Archives website that "Tuscaloosa" is "as close as Time Fades Away II that we'll get."
Roxy: Tonight's the Night Live was released on April 24, 2018 with a Record Store Day vinyl release on April 21. The album is culled from a set of shows played during the opening of the Roxy Theatre from September 20-22, 1973. The shows featured Young backed by the Santa Monica Flyers and songs from the recently recorded Tonight's The Night.
Catalogue number possibly reserved for Odeon-Budokan, an unreleased live album featuring recordings from the 1975 shows at Budokan Hall, Tokyo and Hammersmith Odeon, London with Crazy Horse. According to Young the album is complete and ready to be released, but was delayed in favour of Tuscaloosa.
Songs for Judy was released digitally and on CD on November 30, 2018, and as a double LP on December 14, 2018. Compiled by Joel Bernstein and Cameron Crowe from solo acoustic performances on the 1976 North American tour, it previously circulated among fans as a bootleg titled The Bernstein Tapes.
Catalogue number possibly reserved for Boarding House, an album compiled from the recordings made during Young's 5-day residency at The Boarding House, San Francisco in May 1978; some of these recordings appeared on side A of Rust Never Sleeps. The album is listed on the timeline on the Archives website, although its status is currently unknown.
Catalogue possibly reserved for "Crazy Horse Garage" - a series of live in concert by Neil Young & Crazy Horse during their US concert tours October - November 1986.
Volume 12 in the Performance Series, Dreamin' Man Live '92, was released on December 8, 2009 and features all ten songs from the album Harvest Moon (but in different order, locations & dates) performed live in 1992.
Although the Archives label is predominantly used for previously unreleased material, the name is also being attached to remastered editions of existing albums. Such releases are labeled Neil Young Archives Official Release Series. Since the introduction of PonoMusic, the following albums have been re-released as part of the Official Release Series:
Compact disc versions of the first four above albums were released on 14 July 2009. In addition, the albums were reissued as limited edition box sets on 24 November 2009, in both 180-gram vinyl and 24k gold CD versions. 140-gram vinyl editions of the individual albums were also issued on that date. On the 28th of November 2014, the series no. 05-08 were also reissued as limited edition vinyl box sets. When the PonoMusic Store went live in the end of 2014, another six albums were reissued as digital downloads, making a total of 14 albums available in 24 Bit & 192 kHz (including the 1973 album Time Fades Away, which hadn't been officially re-released since then).
In 2003, Neil Young released On The Beach, American Stars 'N Bars, Hawks & Doves, and Re·ac·tor on compact disc for the first time. These were reissued as HDCDs as part of the Neil Young Archives Digital Masterpiece Series. The CD versions were subsequently joined by DVD-Audio versions.
Neil Young has also announced a part of the archives known as the Special Release Series. Toast, a previously unreleased album recorded in 2000 with Crazy Horse, was the first album to be announced as being part of the Special Release Series. Though announced in 2008, Toast remains unreleased (as of September 2019). It was then announced that the second volume of Archives box sets would include four SRS releases; the studio albums Homegrown, Chrome Dreams and Oceanside/Countryside, and the unreleased live album Odeon-Budokan.  However, these are also all unreleased (as of September 2019).
Hitchhiker, an entirely solo album intended for release in the late 1970s but rejected by Reprise at the time recorded on August 11, 1976, at Indigo Ranch Recording Studio in Malibu, California, and released on September 8, 2017, ended up becoming the first officially released album as part of this series.
Paradox was released on March 23, 2018.
Young has mentioned many as-of-yet unreleased studio albums and live albums that he has recorded over the years, including: