Kanye West and Ty Dolla $ign appear to be leaning towards no longer putting their upcoming Vultures 2 album on streaming services. Ye announced they were instead considering selling it directly on his Yeezy.com website for $20 a copy. In their reasoning, the duo noted how DSPs often financially exploit artists, but it's unclear if it'll actually work.

The conversation kicked off on Sunday (March 10), with Ye saying in a DM conversation with the Kanye West fansite YeFanatics that he may not put his Vultures 1 sequel on DSPs such as Spotify or Apple Music.

"We sell albums on Yeezy.com. I got 20 million instagram followers,” Ye wrote. “When 5% of my followers buy an album [t]hat’s 1 million albums sold[.] That’s 300k more than the biggest album last year."

West then went on to ask his YeFanatics supporters whether they'd buy a million copies of the album if he merely made physical copies available.

“When we do that we won’t have the streaming companies in control of the artist anymore,” Ye added.

Ty Dolla $ign also argued this point after a fan sent the rapper a direct message. Ty said merely selling physical copies of the project would just lead to "piracy."

"That's what these streaming services want u to believe so they can stay on top," Ty replied, arguing that he and Ye are merely making a "fraction" of a profit off Vultures 1.

"It's time to figure out the unlock on how to bring the music straight to our audience and cut the middle man out," Ty added. "Artists are getting raped and that has to stop."

Ye and Ty are correct in saying they'd make a significantly larger amount of money if they sold the album right on their website. The $20 price tag in particular harkens back to the days of physical CD sales, which Forbes noted in 2019 still makes artists significantly more money than streaming. The publication claimed streaming merely accounted for 38.4 percent of the industry's total revenue that year, with physical product sales declining by a mere 5.4 percent. This shows that physical music still sells quite well even when up against the convenience of DSP's.

This is why artists often still rely on—and sometimes exploit—merch bundles and physical vinyl sales. When Travis Scott released his Utopia album in July of 2023, the highly anticipated release still sold 185,000 album-equivalent units in its third week—93,000 of which were from vinyl sales.

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How Much Do Artists Make From Streaming?

Artists have advocated for a change in streaming policies for years. Artists often makes $0.003 per stream, according to Spotify. The DSP then announced in November of 2023 that it'd be updating its streaming policy in the new year to allegedly support emerging artists "most dependent on streaming revenues as part of their livelihood."

As part of this change, tracks must now reach at least 1,000 streams before they can generate recorded royalties. The hope is that this change will move $40 million that would have previously been given to songs with less than 1,000 streams to those with more than 1,000 streams.

While Spotify in particular notes this change is meant to combat AI-created music, a lot of rookie musicians don't see this new change paying off in their favor. Across social media, musicians noted the difficulty of achieving 1,000 streams in general and said this policy would further hurt emerging artists.

Kanye has also remained one of the most vocal critics of streaming services, but other rappers like Snoop Dogg, Russ, French Montana and Jay-Z also previously condemned streaming practices.

Back in 2022, Ye had taken another stab at trying to direct all the profits to him by releasing Donda 2 strictly on his STEM Player. The move was controversial, in turn because a single STEM Player cost around $200, and led to mass pirating of the album instead.

“Today artists get just 12% of the money the industry makes," Ye said of the move on Instagram at the time. "It’s time to free music from the oppressive system. It’s time to take control and build our own."

Donda 2 also didn't see the Billboard success Vultures 1 or Donda did. Despite Kanye claiming he made $2.2 million off Stem Player purchases alone, Billboard announced Donda 2 wouldn't be eligible for Billboard placement because the player “can be used for other means besides the playing of the album." This ruling qualified the STEM Player as merch, and Billboard said the album would never be considered for chart placement. Back in 2016, Ye also said he'd "never" release his album The Life of Pablo on Apple, instead initially opting to just put it on Tidal—Jay-Z's streaming service that advocates for better artist royalties. However, Ye soon after backtracked and released the project everywhere, with rumors that he lost money by limiting its release

.So, while Ty and Ye's attempt to change the way artists profit off music is admirable, there remain a lot of potholes to navigate. As they plan to sell the upcoming Vultures 2 album on Yeezy.com, Vultures 1 remains one of the top-selling albums in the country, sitting comfortably at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 chart this week after debuting at No. 1 in February.

The single "Carnival" also just debuted at No.1 on the Billboard Hot 100 on Monday (March 11), making it even harder to unsee the benefits of streaming success as a major artist. With that being said, every revolution comes with sacrifices, but as Ye struggles to put together a world tour to promote Vultures due to his anti-Semitic tirades last year, it will be interesting to see how much he's willing to sacrifice.

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