Last week, Kanye West dropped his latest album ‘Donda 2‘. As previously announced, this is no regular release.
The album is not available on Spotify, Apple, or any of the other major streaming platforms. Instead, fans who want to listen to the tracks have to purchase Kanye’s Stem Player, a $200 audio device.
“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,” Kanye wrote on Instagram, explaining the move.
While this exclusive release may guarantee that a higher percentage of the revenue goes to Kanye and his crew, fans are not necessarily better off. $200 is quite a steep price for an album, even if it comes with added interactive features.
Donda 2 is Widely Pirated
As a result, many Kanye fans opted to wait for pirated versions of the tracks to surface online. They didn’t have to wait very long, as the full album leaked fairly soon after becoming available on the Stem Player. In fact, the Stem Player itself was ‘pirated’ too.
A few days ago, Reddit user ‘Lucaiii’ posted a “Stem Player Player,” and emulator that allows people to listen to and download music from the official player website without paying.
Needless to say, there has been plenty of interest in both the emulator and the pirated copies of Donda 2 that appeared online. At the time of writing, Donda 2 is the most shared album on sites such as 1337x and The Pirate Bay, where many thousands of people have grabbed a copy.
This once again illustrates that piracy is often driven by a lack of affordable legal options. That said, there are plenty of people who paid for the Stem Player as well, so Kanye might still be better off revenue-wise.
Not Kanye’s First Piracy Controversy
In any case, the interest among pirates shouldn’t have come as a surprise for the rapper. When he released “The Life of Pablo” exclusively on Tidal in 2016 there was also a piracy surge, which came with a twist.
Angered by mass-piracy, Kanye considered taking legal action against notorious torrent site The Pirate Bay. While he would not be the first to try, no lawsuits followed. Instead, a follow-up tweet quickly turned the tables.
The tweet showed that the rapper had an open browser tab titled ”Pirate Bay Torrent Xfe..,” which likely pointed to a pirated copy of a VST/AU plugin from Xfer Records. This company was co-founded by DJ Deadmau5 who subsequently called out Kanye as a ‘dick’.
Whether Kanye was really pirating music tools or whether he was simply trolling remains an unanswered question. However, the whole ordeal did trigger the launch of a Kanye-inspired Pirate Bay mirror, which was quite popular for a while, until it vanished.