Kanye West wants to “redesign the world” and music with Stem Player
If you want to listen to Kanye West’s new album, you’ll need to purchase a $200 Stem Player.
Last week, West announced that “Donda 2” would not be available on traditional music streaming services like Spotify (SPOT) or Apple Music (AAPL), although the latter had apparently offered the rapper a 100 million contract. of dollars that he rejected.
Instead, the album will be released exclusively on Ye’s new handheld device, the latest evolution in a music industry where payment and distribution models are rapidly being transformed by powerful digital trends like non-fungible tokens. (NFT).
“Today, artists get 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,” West said in a statement.
The Stem Player, which West created in collaboration with Kano Computing, allows users to manipulate music tracks using touch controls.
Alex Klein, CEO of Kano Computing and close friend of the rapper, told Yahoo Finance that the product creates a “deeper and more immersive” experience for consumers. It also opens the door for other artists to build stronger relationships with fans, but without relying on big tech.
Klein and West “both have a desire to redesign the world,” he added.
“The current paradigm of consumer electronics and software is damaging our mental health…we wanted to create a way to interact with each other through music,” he continued.
“It’s the future”
Stem Player sales skyrocketed with the recent release of “Donda 2”. Klein said that “in a single day of sales, Ye was able to generate more revenue – $2.2 million – than 500 million streams would have generated on conventional streaming platforms”.
The exec reiterated that all early concerns about the product were “blown away,” adding that the company “moves over $100,000 from Stem Players per hour” at the “Donda 2” listening party in Miami more early this week.
Consumers “want to support their favorite artists” and “get the work the way artists want to present it, rather than how these tech conglomerates want to present it,” according to Klein.
“This is the future. This is the 2032 level,” the CEO continued.
In addition to pocketing the majority of revenue, selling these products directly to the consumer allows the rap star to own the customer data, which is what virtually every tech and media company focuses on.
The device also creates a new path for other artists, who can use the Stem player to launch their own exclusive albums. If successful, it’s likely that this product would force the industry to redefine how it measures success – beyond album sales and streaming downloads.
According to Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), status is measured in specific levels of at least 500,000 Displaced Units (Gold) or Platinum (over 10 million). For certification, one album sale (or 10 permanent track downloads or 1,500 audio or video streams) counts as one unit.
Therefore, it is unclear at this point how the RIAA would define West’s Stem Player, and whether or not the device would count as an eligible unit for artists to submit in an application for Gold & Platinum certification.
Still, it’s entirely possible that the device could revolutionize the status quo and force the RIAA to recognize the model, especially if sales continue to climb.
West is “so ambitious and pursues every opportunity,” Klein of Kano Computing told Yahoo Finance.
“It’s a great privilege to partner with him and work with him, because he just says, ‘Why not?’ We need more of that…that boldness to break down barriers and break down walls. It takes courage,” the CEO continued.
“Together, no estimate will be too big for what we do next,” he concluded.
Alexandra is a Producer and Entertainment Correspondent at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @alliecanal8193