Don’t expect to see Kanye West’s new album Donda 2 on any Billboard charts unless the rapper changes his stance on its exclusive nature.
Over the past several weeks, West unveiled his Donda 2 songs, first at a Miami listening party and then for customers who purchased his pricy Stem device, a portable MP3 player with additional music-mixing features.
However, Billboard has said his album is “ineligible” to appear on any of their charts due to a specific technicality.
Why is Kanye West’s Donda 2 ‘ineligible’ for Billboard charts?
Last month, Kanye West hosted the Donda Experience Performance, a concert held at Miami’s LoanDepot Park that featured Ye debuting tracks from Donda 2 and performing songs with various artists, including material from last year’s Donda album.
A day later, four songs from Donda 2 were released, but only to individuals who owned a $200 Stem player. A dozen more songs were released in the days after that, with a total of 16 released called V2.22.22 Miami.
West made a stance ahead of the music’s release that he was ditching the traditional streaming platforms including Spotify, Apple Music, and YouTube for his release.
“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,” West said in his since-deleted Instagram post about the Stem player.
With Ye’s decision to keep the album exclusive to Stem players, Billboard says Donda 2 is ineligible for their charts. It’s because of a relatively new merch bundle policy, where an album sold with merchandise and/or concert tickets is ineligible for the Billboard charts.
Billboard announced their rules change back in 2020 to curb bundling practices used with albums to drive market share and music sales. Bundling seemed to be a way of “supercharging” an album’s chart performance.
Kanye’s previous release was 2021’s Donda, with the original version featuring 27 tracks and the deluxe edition with 32. It included guest appearances from Jay-Z, Lil Baby, The Weeknd, DaBaby, Playboi Carti, and more. Donda reached No. 1 on the US Billboard 200 and Billboard’s US Christian Albums, US Top Gospel Albums, and US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums charts.
Donda finished at No. 39 for Billboard’s year-end US Billboard 200 chart and at No. 1 on the US Christian Albums and US Top Gospel Albums charts.
Donda 2 brought Stem success, heavily pirated album
Kanye’s initial announcement that Donda 2 would only be available on the Stem player was met with many frustrated individuals reacting to the news. However, Ye indicated that he’d made over $2.2 million from Stem players within a day due to customer demand.
While he may have enjoyed some sales success due to the move, TorrentFreak reported that the decision also led to massive pirating of Donda 2. It’s believed this is due to the customers not having affordable legal options to listen to it.
In 2016, Kanye used a similar strategy involving album exclusivity when he released The Life of Pablo first to members of the Tidal streaming platform. At one point, most people believed the album would only be available on Tidal.
That decision also led to heavy pirating of his work and nearly a lawsuit by West against Pirate Bay, a controversial online peer-to-peer file-sharing index. However, he never followed through after getting called out for what seemed to be his personal use of Pirate Bay.
He released an updated version of The Life of Pablo several months later on other platforms, including Spotify, Apple Music, Rhapsody, and Google Play. That 2016 album reached No. 1 on the US Billboard 200 chart and finished the year as the No. 27 album for the US Billboard 200.