On February 22, 2022, Kanye West released his Donda 2 album available only through a $200 Stem Player. In recent weeks, Snoop Dogg seemed to follow suit when he acquired full ownership of Death Row Records, a staple of the 90s West Coast rap scene. Upon his acquisition, Death Row classics such as Snoop Dogg’s Doggystyle and Dr. Dre’s The Chronic, among others, disappeared from streaming services as Snoop announced that Death Row will become an NFT label.
West claimed he has made his album available only through his $200 Stem Player in retaliation to the prevalent issue of artists only receiving a small part of funds made off of their music. However, with West holding a networth of $1.8 billion, it is hard to believe he has suffered much at all from this and is instead disfavouring the fans that got him to where he is now, who are not billionaires and few of whom can afford to stream Donda 2.
Similarly, Snoop Dogg said that he made the move because he wants to trailblaze in the up and coming prospect of music sold as NFTs. Given the often high cost of NFTs based on their rarity, it is likely that the cost of Death Row produced records will cost far more than even the physical copy of the albums.
With Snoop holding a personal net worth of $150 million and Death Row at an estimated $385 million, it seems as though fans are being pushed aside in pursuit of money by people who make more than the average listener could ever dream.
There are no doubt countless problems within the music industry that encompass artists not receiving adequate funds for their music, but this issue affects smaller musicians who struggle to support themselves, not millionaires and billionaires whose music defines generations such as Snoop Dogg and Kanye West.
If either truly wanted to fix this issue, they would not create further hoops for those who have supported them to jump through, but instead work to make widespread change across the industry, specifically for struggling smaller artists. Both artists are putting up a thin facade of looking to the future of music and advocating for the rights of musicians instead of admitting that it is a blatant money grab.
Seeing as releasing music as NFTs and through Stem Players is a new phenomenon and many musicians have gained immense wealth throughout most of modern history, it is clear that these new tools are unnecessary to succeed.
Kanye West and Snoop Dogg are musical legends. However, their decisions to make their music less accessible will likely influence other musicians to make similar choices, putting the average listener at a disadvantage so that already ultra-wealthy musicians can make even more money.
Meg Diehl is a freshman studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. What are your thoughts? Tell Meg by tweeting her at @irlbug.
Assistant Opinion Editor