If you wish to experience the listening pleasure of Kanye West’s forthcoming album, be prepared to part ways with $200.
Kanye West, who now goes by Ye, has an upcoming album set to become one of the most expensive music to possess and listen to. The body of work, titled Donda 2, will only be available on his personal platform, which you can only access through the Stem Player. The hardware costs a cool $200. Ye is cutting out intermediaries like Apple, Amazon, Spotify, and even YouTube this time.
Ye explained why he has chosen to make his music available this pricey way. “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. Go to stemplayer.com now to order.”
So, Ye is protesting how he and his fellow artists get paid peanuts for their creative content. If you want to support Ye in this fight, Donda 2 will be available on February 22nd.
If you wonder what Stem Player looks like, it is a music player launched by Ye last year, developed in collaboration with Kano Computing. It allows you to control your music by touching or rubbing on different parts of the touch-enabled body. As a bonus, the gizmo glows. It started shipping with the original Donda album, but it is now the only way to consume the sequel.
Ye says they have 67,000 units available, so if you are really keen on the upcoming album, you need to move fast before all the inventory is snapped up. However, they are producing more at 3,000 units per week.
The Stem Player has an internal memory of 8 GB and has connections like USB-C, Bluetooth, and a headphone jack. There is a 97 dB speaker if you wish to listen through the device itself.
People who have tested the gadget report that it works pretty well because you can quickly jump to different parts of the song while it is playing. It works for the preloaded tracks or anyone you obtain from the web. Where things look dicey is when you throw loops and effects into the mix.
Meanwhile, Ye has not revealed whether existing owners of the Stem Player will pay for the new album and, if they would, how much the cost would be.
However, Ye has dabbled in exclusive releases before, and if the result is anything to go by, nothing is set in stone. The Life of Pablo album was released on Jay Z-owned Tindal streaming platform, with Ye vowing never to give it to Apple for distribution. However, about two months after the release, his fans started to enjoy it on Apple and Spotify, and Google Play. The famous rapper would eventually cancel his Tindal contract claiming he was owed millions of dollars.
Admittedly, Ye has control over the platform he has chosen to release Donda 2 on, but nobody would be surprised if he changed his mind. He even claimed Apple offered him $100 million for the first Donda album, so perhaps this is a pricey ploy to make Apple increase or at least match the offer for the new album.
Going by his social media posts and comments, Ye feels strongly about the royalties artists get from their hard work. “Tech companies made music practically free, so if you don’t do merch sneakers and tours you don’t eat. Jay Z made Tidal and fake media attacked him. Well in the words of my big brother. Come and get me. I’m willing to die standing cause I ain’t living on my knees no more. God please cover me. I run this company 100% I don’t have to ask for permission. This is our 2nd generation stemplayer We have more things we are working on. I feel like how I felt in the first episode of the documentary.”