Kanye West’s new album ‘Donda 2’ will cost you $200
Do you want to listen to the artist formerly known as Kanye West’s newest album, Donda 2? If so, I have many followup questions for you, including: Why? And, did you buy his required $200 Stem Player?
It’s not surprising that Ye would want to create a unique and innovative way to disrupt music streaming — he did, after all, turn down $100 million from Apple Music, and announced on his Instagram that he wouldn’t be allowing Apple, Amazon, Spotify, or YouTube to host his new album on their platforms. But this is an objectively wild way to try to connect people with his new work.
So if you’re asking, will Donda 2 be on Spotify, Apple Music, or other streaming platforms? The answer right now is no. Though Ye can obviously change his mind in the future.
“Donda 2 will only be available on my own platform, the Stem Player,” Ye said on Instagram, blaming the “oppressive system” of music streaming that leaves artists with a pitiful percentage of the money the industry makes. “It’s time to free music from this oppressive system. It’s time to take control and build our own. Go to stemplayer.com now to order.”
What is the Stem Player?
The Stem Player is a whopping $200 and ships with Donda 2 pre-installed. The device basically allows you to isolate the vocals, drums, bass, samples, and other aspects of a song in order to add effects, control the volume and speed, and create your own mixes of the music. Ye’s device, which was created last year in partnership with Kano Computing, comes with audio mixing, tactile effects like a mini mixing desk, 8GB of storage, a USB-C port, Bluetooth, and a 97db speaker, among other features. There’s even a Discord forum for the device, with more than 11,000 users online at the time of this writing.
There are plenty of reasons to thwart music streaming, an industry that notoriously treats artists terribly. And this is coming at a time in which plenty of musicians are taking a stand in an attempt to control how fans listen to their music. Take Neil Young, who left Spotify in protest of their continued support of infamous meathead Joe Rogan. But is forcing all fans to pay such a hefty price for his Stem Player to even listen to his album truly the answer?
It’s not that owning this Stem Player is a bad idea — it sounds like a pretty cool tool, actually. But what will likely happen here, is that die hard fans with expendable money will buy Ye’s Stem Player, while the rest will likely download it illegally. Nice to see you, 2008.