Donda 2 Release: Kanye West Wants You to Pay For It, But Is It Worth It?

By Max Mariton

Ye (formally known as, Kanye West) announced that his Donda 2 album will not be available on the usual streaming platforms (Spotify, Deezer, Apple Music…). Instead, the sequel to his hit (if not controversial) album, Donda, will only be available through his own Stem Player streaming service

Why would Kanye West, with his own appreciation society here on campus, do this?

The most obvious explanation seems to revolve around marketing, but also perhaps his much talked about ego. Indeed, this strategy allows him to market two products at once, his album and whopping $200 Stem player. But the American rapper declared that it was also a stance against major streaming service’s treatment of artists, describing them as an “oppressive system” where artists only receive “12% of the money the industry makes”. 

According to Business Insider, an artist needs to make 250 streams to earn 1.00 USD on Spotify. But all of this could also be about his ego, making sure that his brand is so performative that his fans are willing to “invest” two hundred bucks more to listen to it.

So did it work? Was it a good strategy to promote the Stem player and his album?

To gauge the actual success of the album is difficult. Donda 2 is not eligible to figure on Billboard charts, precisely because fans cannot buy the album in itself. However, singles “Too Eazy” and “City of Gods” were released separately and reached the US top 50 (49 and 46 respectively). In February 2022, Donda 2 reached number one as the most pirated album of the month.

Personally, I got a bit bored of Ye’s marketing stunts, but as other people might think differently, I asked what other UNSW students thought. The Blitz UNSW community seems to think it’s cool that someone is standing up to streaming platforms and their treatment of artists, however, one member says

Having to pay $200 for his streaming platform sounds like garbage to me. - Anonymous

When asked about Ye’s latest album, the UNSW Kanye West Appreciation Society president, Ben Doyle, says that 

Donda 2 is the manifestation of the controlling your own narrative rhetoric Kanye’s been espousing for the last few months. From an artistic point of view, I think him releasing the album on Stem Player gives him much more control over how much he can tweak the album. - Ben Doyle

He also points out that Donda 2 is supposed to be a “living album”. An album that grows and changes with time. 

So, in the end, is there more behind that album than just a cash grab? What do you think? Did you buy it, or better yet, pirate it? (Which if you pirated, you absolutely should NOT have done that). Send us your analysis and leave a comment down below with your thoughts! 

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Anandi Ganguly