Kanye West’s ‘Donda 2’ ineligible to chart on Billboard due to Stem Player release

Photo courtesy of Zac Schuss

Before Kanye West steadily released his ever-evolving Donda 2 album on his Stem Player platform and device in late February, he had already seen a major influx of sales for his product. In the weeks before Donda 2 dropped following his Feb. 22 listening party, Ye achieved $1.3 million in Stem Player sales in first 24 hours after announcing the album would solely be on the device. By Feb. 18, he had sold 39,500 Stem Players, equalling roughly $8.6 million.

But, now that fans with Stem Players can access Donda 2, the amount of times they play the album will not matter in the eyes of Billboard. On March 7, Billboard announced that Donda 2 is officially ineligible to land on any of their charts, including the Hot 100 and Billboard 200.

In the article, Billboard explained the reasoning behind this decision came because “the album is being sold with a device that can be used for other means besides the playing of the album. As such, the Stem/Donda package would fall within Billboard’s latest merch bundle policy, where albums sold with merchandise are not chart eligible.”

Ye seemed to be at ease with the decision, writing: “Big win for the kid We can no longer be counted or judged We won we won we won we won We make my own systems We set our own value aaaand yesterdays price is not todays price baaaaabeeeee!!!!!”

Billboard added there’s a chance for this policy to be updated as the music landscape continues to evolve. “Since the Stem Player is a fairly new concept, however, people familiar with the matter from both Billboard and MRC say they plan to continue to monitor its evolution as it relates to chart eligibility,” the article reads.

Further elaborating, senior editor for Billboard Lyndsey Alana felt confident that West’s Stem Player sales can be accommodated in the future, as Billboard continues to work towards shaping its rules to fit the creativity of music releases. “Ye is always a leader, and I feel like people will try to follow in his footsteps with creating their own devices, making more money,” she said. “I also think it’s important to note that artists are talking about releasing albums in the MetaVerse, so what could that look like in terms of our chart eligibility? I do think these things will change to reflect new strategies.”

Meek Mill is one of the artists who have recently hinted at the idea of dropping an NFT or blockchain album, so perhaps he helped to get the ball rolling on Billboard’s policy changes.

In an apparent response to this ruling, Ye and Stem Player added the MP3 versions of each Donda 2 song to the stemplayer.com website, where users that own a Stem Player can stream the songs on the site without needing their device.

Billboard is not the only entity still adapting to Kanye’s Stem Player, as fans also seem to be needing an adjustment period to figure out how they’re going to be able to check out Ye’s new project. With this being said, Ye has been dominating Spotify recently even without Donda 2’s presence on DSPs, so he likely is not mourning too much.

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