It’s not a new observation to note that the streaming music ecosystem is a pretty lousy environment for artists, especially money-wise; stats vary, but services like Spotify pay roughly a ha’penny for every stream a track gets, only some percentage of which generally trickles down to the musician in question. Thank goodness, then, that Kanye West has a solution to all of this: Giving Kanye West $200.
This is per West’s own social media, your one-stop shop for album news, petty power plays, and future evidence in potential restraining order cases. This week’s latest entry: A promise by West that his upcoming album, Donda 2, will only be available on his own Stem Player music platform, and won’t stream on Apple Music, Spotify, or any other services. West also helpfully provided a link to the Stem Player site, where you can buy one—pre-loaded with boring old Donda 1—for a scant 2 hundo.
Now, we’d be lying if we said that the Stem Player, despite looking like a beige, fleshy hockey puck, didn’t seem kind of neat as a musical toy: The device purports to split various songs into their component stems, allowing you to mix music on the fly by adjusting its weird little light bar nubs. On the other hand, though, buying a $200 dedicated music player with no screen just to get a “sequel” to an album we weren’t wild about in the first place, and support an artist who seems determined to spend whatever resources he has on being a nuisance-at-large feels... Less neat.
West has had plenty of disagreements with labels and streamers over the years; most recently, he claimed that Universal’s Donda release, which came after months of listening parties, setlist tinkering, and that bit where he championed DaBaby and accused rapist Marilyn Manson, was done without his consent, and not in the form he wanted. (Manson is also reportedly set to feature on Donda 2.) Previous albums, notably The Life Of Pablo, featured similar allegations of labels getting frustrated with West’s endless love for hyping an album he’s supposedly not yet ready to release.
Donda 2 is currently scheduled for release on Tuesday, February 22, coinciding with a public concert in Miami. We’ll believe it when we see it.