Kanye asked his fans to pay $200 to enjoy Donda 2. They turned to piracy instead.
The famed rapper has a bit of a reputation as being a hype man as of late. So even the most hardcore fans were skeptical that Donda 2 would drop on time, given how the release for Donda went. In true Kanye fashion, he’s a few days late – but Donda 2 is now available exclusively on the Stem Player.
The problem is the $200 price tag attached to the device that is seemingly for Kanye’s music only, for now. The tech behind the Stem Player is pretty simple, too. It uses an artificial intelligence model like Spleeter to separate the audio into four distinct sounds called stems. Spleeter can deliver 4-stem audio separation for vocals, drums, bass, and other sounds. Sound familiar? The hockey puck designed by Kano Labs is basically a four-way volume knob for these custom-engineered sound stems.
Kanye’s biggest fans pretty much proved that theory after Donda 2 dropped earlier today. Fans on reddit wrote a simple python script to trick the StemPlayer.com website into thinking a device is connected to it. It then downloads the separated .wav files to the person’s computer – as if it were a Stem Player.
It didn’t take long for other fans to write a Stem Player emulator, so now a PC can manipulate these individual files as one. The result is that Donda 2 isn’t on any music streaming service, but it can easily be heard online in the right circles.
The exclusivity for the music is likely hurting Kanye more than it is helping him sell Stem Players. That’s especially true if he’s missed out on an Apple Music live stream because of the exclusivity.
Donda set new records on Apple Music when it dropped in August 2021. It reached the #1 spot on Apple Music’s Top Album charts in 152 countries in just 24 hours. Donda was streamed over 60 million times in the United States during that first day of release. So Kanye gave up millions by asking his hardcore fans to plunk down $200 on an experimental volume control puck for his demo reels.