Kanye West’s next album Donda 2 is due out next month, and the controversial hip-hop star is sure, as always, to attract an audience.
Kanye’s long been railing against the industry he’s part of, pointing out the small proportion of money made on music that actually goes to artists. So far, so fair.
Donda 2, though, according to the increasingly controversial star, will only be released on his own device, something called a Stem Player. West has already encouraged fans to go and buy the device, which retails at roughly €170, a price that seems rather a lot for a single record, and, perhaps, works on the assumption that those buying it will use the Stem Player more widely.
We can respect Kanye’s decision not to follow the easy road, instead choosing to step away from streaming services that are currently hugely topical and less than popular in large parts of the music industry world. After all, he’s one of a relatively small number of high-profile musicians who are truly in a position to challenge the status quo to some degree: smaller artists essentially have no weight. What’s harder to take is a decision to shut out his fans in a way that’s so pricey, so exclusive.
It would be better, perhaps, to simply look at releasing an old-style hard copy record, or at least going down a more affordable road, because it would take a particularly excessive Kanye West fan to value a record they have never heard from an artist who most consider to be on a bit of a downhill spiral at, in practise, €170. But as artists creep away from the standard methods of streaming music, perhaps we might make our way towards a tipping point. Perhaps, even, unlike its predecessor, Donda 2 might appear in a single, finished form, too.