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Kanye makes Donda 2 a Stem Player exclusive (wait, what’s that?)

Donda 2 // Illustration by Kate Walker

Kanye makes Donda 2 a Stem Player exclusive (wait, what’s that?)


Future. The always surprising and controversial Kanye West announced last Friday that his upcoming album, Donda 2 (which comes out today), will only be available on his remix device, the Stem Player. Even if it’s the only place you can find the music now, don’t expect the album to stay only there for very long — 2016’s Life of Pablo was a Tidal exclusive for a mere two months before releasing on every platform. But expect Stem Player sales to skyrocket in the meantime.

Hardware as a service
Kanye sure loves to experiment.

  • The rapper claims that Donda 2 will only be available today (but we know how Kanye is with his release dates) via his Stem Player.
  • What’s a Stem Player, you ask? It’s Kanye’s puck-shaped gadget that is pre-loaded with stems (independent tracks of elements like vocals, bass, and drums) of his music so that people can remix it.

The device (which costs $200) was unveiled last October — it was pre-loaded with the first Donda album and came with three exclusive songs. Kanye is probably hoping that putting Donda 2 exclusively on his very own YePod will send sales way up.

All of the Revenue
In his announcement, Kanye called out Apple, Amazon, Spotify, and YouTube and said, “Today, artists get just 12% 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.”

It’s not the first time that he’s taken the music industry to task over (relatively) paltry payouts, battling with Universal Music Group in 2020. In the wake of that spat, he dropped a song for free on Twitter and announced that he would give artists under his G.O.O.D. Music Label 50% of their masters, and even spelled out a vision statement for the future relationship between artists and labels.

Whether the Stem Player-only release plays out or not, Kanye is on a warpath to change how the industry pays its artists.