Kanye West announces Donda Stem Player

Image credit: Kanye West

The device that allows you to ‘customise any song’ is available to pre-order now for $200.

Kanye West is yet again finding his way into headlines across the world as he continues to market his latest album ‘Donda’. Yesterday the rapper announced he was formally changing his name to Ye, now he has unveiled his new gadget called the Donda Stem Player. The device allows users to customize any song’, according to the device’s website. It’s available for pre-order for $200 and has a vague release date of “Summer”, however, the website also states it will ship “with Donda”, which is slated for a late August release. 

The device was created by Kanye’s Yeezy tech brand and developed with electronics company Kano. It looks like a tan hockey puck and is apparently made out of “soft silicone blended skin.” it’s equipped with a headphone jack and Bluetooth support. It can also do simultaneous Bluetooth and audio jack playback. There is also a USB-C port, volume buttons, speakers, a haptic engine, and 8GB of storage. The four light bars are touch-sensitive sliders, which allow you to control the device and customize songs. It also supports a wide range of music formats, such as AIFF, AIF, FLAC, M4A, MP3, WAV, WAVE, AAC, ALAC, and MP4. 

According to the website the Donda Stem Player allows you to: 

  • Control vocal’s drums, bass, and samples
  • Isolate Parts
  • Add effects
  • Split any song into stems

It also comes with the following tools: 

  • 4-channel lossless audio mixing
  • Realtime loop and speed control
  • Tactile effects
  • One hit
  • Live samples
  • Save, playback, and share mixes
  • Customize colors
  • Content and software updates from your browser

Here’s the Donda Stem Player in action:


The announcement of Kanye’s stem player follows a string of public events and stories about Kanye during the run-up to his latest album ‘Donda’. Since the announcement of the album, Kanye has done two live listening parties, both of which broke Apple’s Livestream records, applied to change his name to Ye, posted Drake’s address on Twitter, and now the stem player. 

Kanye is also planning a third album listening party in Chicago where fans won’t have to have proof of covid vaccination or negative test. 

YouTube is pushing the popular Groovy Discord music bot offline

Image credit: Alexander Shatov

Google has sent a cease and desist to the popular Discord music bot Groovy.

YouTube (via Google) has started to crack down on Discord music bots, which are incredibly popular on the chat platform. The tech giant sent a cease and desist to the owners of the popular Groovy Bot, which allows Discord users to play music from YouTube videos. The bot is installed on more than 16 million Discord servers. Google has demanded that the service ceases within seven days and Groovy is complying by shutting down its bot on August 30th. 

Google confirmed that it took action in the case via The Verge, saying: “We notified Groovy about violations of our Terms of Service, including modifying the service and using it for commercial purposes.”

Speaking on the cease and desist, creator and founder of Groovy, Nik Ammerlaan said: “Groovy has been a huge part of my life over the past five years. It started because my friend’s bot sucked and I thought I could make a better one.” Adding: “I’m not sure why they decided to send it [a cease and desist] now. They probably just didn’t know about it, to be honest.”

Nik also commented that it was “just a matter of seeing when it would happen.” 

The Groovy bot supports Spotify, YouTube, Soundcloud, and other services, but most of its music comes from YouTube. This is likely to be a domino effect and will affect other music bots on Discord. 

One said example is the most popular music bot Rythm, which is used by 560 million users and installed on 20 million Discord servers. However, they have yet to receive a cease and desist from Google, but one would imagine it’s coming. 

In a statement to The Verge, a Discord spokesperson said: “We take the rights of others seriously and require developers who create bots for Discord to do the same.” Adding: “If a bot running on Discord violates someone else’s rights, that third party or Discord may take action.”

Are vaccine passports the future of live music? Gigs are returning but with conditions

Vaccine passports, negative lateral flow tests, temperature checks on the door; concerts are coming back but we haven’t left the COVID-19 pandemic behind just yet.

As live music returns after what feels like forever, the industry is discovering how to make it work in a post-pandemic world. A year of lockdowns have devastated the music industry which relies so heavily on live concerts for income. Venues, managers, roadies, and of course the artists themselves have faced a struggle like never before. Whilst more time at home has given listeners the opportunity to stream music more than ever, giving artists and labels a much needed boost, the effects of a near-total end to live music has been huge.

However, the sun is appearing behind the clouds and vaccine roll outs are helping bring about the return of the experiences that we’ve missed so much in the last year and a half. No matter how excited we may be getting about all of the upcoming gigs and the festivals which have helped to reinvigorate our Summer, we have to remember that we’re not out of the woods just yet.

What will be required to go to events now?

Live Nation and AEG have both recently announced the upcoming requirements to attend any of their festivals or event at their venues. They will require event-goers to show proof that they have been fully vaccinated against COVID, or alternatively they can show proof that they’ve tested negative within 72 hours leading up to the event.

Live Nation intends on implementing their requirements from October 4th whilst AEG will be putting the rules in place a little earlier on October 1st. Live Nation’s president, Michael Rapino confirmed that the requirements won’t necessarily be enforced at third-party venues where they’re promoting, saying that they “can only commit to what we control right now”.

There is no blanket rule for what live events should be doing and it of course varies from location to location and depending on the size of concerts. For example, the requirements for a local band playing at a bar is going to be different to a stadium gig on an international tour or the management of a festival that sees thousands mixing and camping together for multiple days.

Ultimately it is up to each individual event organiser how they intend to approach the allowance of attendees and whether they put any requirements in place to attend. Vaccine proof and negative tests are becoming a standard but there are a number of organisers who are not putting any restrictions in place, particularly at smaller venues with quieter gigs.

Do vaccine checks and negative test results really stop the spread at events?

When Live Nation announced their upcoming admission requirements, they touted the success of the recent Lollapalooza festival as informing their decision. The world-renowned festival went ahead for it’s 30th anniversary with strict enforcement of point of entry checks in place, demanding that each attendee showed proof of a negative test or vaccination.

Nicole Haiimpoor, writing for Digital Music News, said: “Leading up to the festival, people were wary if there would be an actual check or not. As I attended the festival myself, I witnessed people getting turned away from the gates multiple times if they did not have the proper documents.”

With hundreds of thousands of attendees mixing in tents across four-days, the potential for spread was huge. In the ten days after the festival, Chicago health officials reported only 203 cases of COVID-19 that they reckoned to be linked to the event. Considering its size, that is considerably low and not what we would call a “superspreader event”. In other words, a success and testament to rigorous checks.

That’s not to say that checks are the b-all and end-all, allowing us an assured safe return to events. The recent seaside festival Boardmasters in Cornwall had demanded proof of vaccination or negative tests upon entry in hopes to prevent spread of the virus. The festival saw considerably less traffic than Lollapalooza with roughly 50,000 attendees but reports suggest that nearly 5,000 cases of COVID may be linked to the event.

Whether Boardmasters was as rigorous in their checks as Lollapalooza, we can’t know. However, it is evidence that putting these checks in place is not a definitive solution to stopping the spread. The success of Lollapalooza shows that it can work and ultimately, if we want live events to return then we have to be willing to risk some spread. Vaccine proof and negative tests are probably the best solution to managing the spread until we’re in a more comfortable place with the virus.

I for one am thrilled to see the return of live music and believe that if we all act as honestly as we can in what events are asking of us, then we have the most reasonable route to bringing back the entertainment that we love so much in-person.

TikTok developing its own AR development platform called TikTok Effect Studio

Image credit: Solen Feyissa

TikTok is currently beta testing their own AR development platform called TikTok Effect Studio.

TikTok is wanting a slice of the AR (Augmented Reality) pie as it beta tests its TikTok Effect Studio, an AR development platform. Companies such as Facebook and Snap have already offered something similar to their users, allowing them to create features and experiences for their respective family of apps. Soon TikTok users will be able to build their own AR effects for the short-form video app. 

TikTok is currently beta testing what they’re calling the Effect Studio with developers signing up for early access via their ‘Effect House’ website. 

When applying developers are asked to fill out their name, email, TikTok account info, company, and level of experience with building AR, as well as examples of their previous work. In addition to this, the website also asks if they’re using a Mac or PC, likely so they can gauge which desktop platform to prioritize. 

However, the TikTok Effect Studio is still very much in its early days and only being tested in a few select markets, one of them being the US. There are currently no dates or time frames available to as when the tools will become widely available. 

Currently, TikTok relies on third-party developers who want to integrate more closely with TikTok in their own apps, as opposed to having the tools readily available via their own service. However, competitors Facebook and Snap have both invested heavily into in-house AR tools. 

Speaking to TechCrunch a TikTok spokesperson said: “We’re always thinking about new ways to bring value to our community and enrich the TikTok experience.” Adding: “Currently, we’re experimenting with ways to give creators additional tools to bring their creative ideas to life for the TikTok community.”

YouTube’s Partner Program now has 2 million members

Image credit: YouTube

The program that launched 14 years ago, with the intention to pay creators has amassed 2 million members.

YouTube’s Partner Program, which allows creators to generate revenue off their videos, has passed the 2 million creator mark, according to YouTube. The platform that launched 14 years ago has been the main driver behind allowing for the platform to be a viable place for business. YouTubers such as PewDiePie, Cody Ko, and H3H3 have seen major success along with many other partners. However, it has often lead to criticism of YouTube when a creator does something that reflects poorly on the platform which in turn drives away advertisers. Although advertisers tend to bounce back once the drama has de-escalated. 

The Partner Program, much like Twitch’s Partner Program has some requirements that creators have to meet first. YouTube requires that a creator has at least 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours of overall watch time on your channel in the past 12 months. Once this target has been reached a channel can start earning money through ads, subscription fees, donations, live-streaming, and YouTube Premium revenue. 

Neal Mohan, Chief Product Officer at YouTube, said in a blog post that the number of new channels joining the program in 2020 more than doubled in comparison to 2019. In addition to this, the number of YouTube channel’s making six figures or more in revenue increased by 35% year over year. 

De La Soul’s catalog is finally coming to streaming platforms

Image credit: David Corio/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images via Okayplayer

After a long wait and many legal battles regarding their samples, De La Soul’s entire back catalog will be available on all major streaming platforms.

The hip hop trio De La Soul, who raised to fame during the ’90s has announced that their entire back catalog of music will be available to stream later this year. 

The legendary trio that consists of Dave “Trugoy The Dove” Jolicoeur, Kelvin “Posdnuos” Mercer, and Vincent Lamont Mason Jr. aka Maseo – made the announcement via Instagram Live. It will be the first time that their full-back catalog has been available on streaming services, mostly due to the legal battles the group has been fighting regarding the licensing of the samples in their music. 

The announcement follows the requisition by Reservoir Music, which purchases the group’s original label Tommy Boy Records for an impressive $100 million. 

De La Soul ran into legal problems with Tommy Boy due to several lawsuits brought against them due to samples used in their music. Their acclaimed debut album ‘3 Feet High And Rising’ features hundreds of samples that have attracted legal actions over the years, meaning for a long time the record was exclusively available on vinyl or CD.

Speaking on the announcement Trugoy said: “We’re thrilled. We have come to a deal between ourselves and Reservoir to release our music in 2021 — our catalog will be released this year, we are working diligently with the good folks at Reservoir, and we sat down with them and got it done pretty quickly actually.” Adding: “Our music will be released in 2021 on all streaming platforms – we’re trying to get the whole catalog out there. It’ll take a minute… a little minute… November.”

It’s a momentous moment for hip hop fans, especially those who favor the peace rap sounds of the ’90s. A massive success for streaming too which will have added one of the world’s most popular hip hop artists’ entire back catalog to their services. 

What is a Spotify Marquee campaign?

Image Credit: Spotify

Find out how to book a Spotify ads campaign using Spotify’s Marquee marketing tool, to put your new music in front of the listeners most likely to stream it.

What is a Spotify Marquee campaign? Spotify’s Marquee promotional tool targets listeners with pop-up ads to show new music to the fans most likely to stream the new release.

Marquee is designed not to target anyone who’s already listened to the track, but work out who is the most likely to click on the ad based on their listening history.

Spotify has put together a guide for getting started with Marquee, from how the tool works to how to go about setting up a pay-to-promote campaign. We’ve gathered a few tips below.

What a Marquee looks like

Marquee is a full screen notification that pops up on Spotify advertising a new release, taking the user through to the artist page.

Image Credit: Spotify

Who does Marquee target?

Marquee can be tailored to the users most likely to be interested in your new track, chosen from your listeners and followers who have liked or streamed your music in the past. You can also target more specifically – splitting into listeners who were most recently interested in your tracks, casual, or lapsed listeners.

Spotify say more than 15% of people stream a release in the two weeks after seeing a Marquee, and they’re twice as likely to save a track.

When does Marquee pop up?

As soon as a user opens up the app, Marquee promotes the music before they’ve chosen their first song of the day to stream. As Spotify said: “It’s minimally intrusive, helpful to the interested listener, and virtually frictionless.”

How much a Marquee costs

Marquee is priced on a cost-per-click basis, with the budget being spent only when users click through on the ad. Campaign budgets start at $250, continuing for a week or until your budget is gone, whichever is first.

When should a campaign take place?

Release day Marquees will have the greatest impact, but you can start a Marquee within the first three weeks of a release. Waiting a while gives your campaign a delayed promo boost.

How to launch a Marquee

Campaigns can currently target audiences in Australia, Cananda, France, Germany, Ireland, New Zealand or the UK. Get started by contacting a Spotify rep here.

In the US Spotify is rolling out a tool letting artists manage Marquees through Spotify for Artists. If you’re an artist who achieves 15,000 US streams over 28 days, head to artists.spotify.com and enter your US billing information, and a Campaigns tab will appear in 24 hours.

RouteNote’s New Music Releases 20th August, 2021: 12 fresh adds to our in-house RouteNote playlists

Our new playlist is here! Listen to 12 new tracks from Tranquilize and our three other RouteNote curated playlists, featuring amazing tracks from RouteNote artists and even a feature from Ed Sheeran.

Happy Friday everyone! Time to check out our brand new in-house playlist, and all the new music launching today across the four playlists curated by the RouteNote team.

Tranquilize is the newest curated playlist to join our lineup, offering easy listening music across the genres to help you breeze through the weekend and beyond. Don’t forget our Hooked playlist with uptempo dance bangers, Catalyst bringing you all things house, and Lo-fi offering relaxing chillhop.

Scroll on for twelve brand new tracks from RouteNote artists, including cover versions taking well-known tracks to new places – and a feature from Ed Sheeran.

Morning Dan, Red Powder, Franko Keys – Persik

Let’s begin by introducing you to a few tracks from our brand new playlist, Tranquilize. First, easing you in with the twinkling piano and laidback beat of “Persik.”

Boshi, bearbare, Lucas Melan – Stay with Me

Here the haunting melody of Sam Smith’s hit “Stay With Me” is stripped back to crisply layered piano, an excellent accompaniment to settling in for the evening after a long workday.

Martin Arteta – Lucid Dreams

Another creatively transformed cover song to end the Tranquilized highlights. This time “Lucid Dreams” by Juice WRLD is slowed down and given the acoustic treatment by Martin Arteta, before a steady beat kicks in for an extra injection of emotion.

FIRST – Back ‘N Forth

Time to take it up a few gears with our Hooked playlist. Let’s launch straight in with FIRST’s invigorating party track “Back ‘N Forth.”

Lupage – Yo No Sé (feat. Seba Dentis)

Next up, “Yo No Sé” by Lupage. Beginning with menacingly low vocals, the track builds to an energizing rhythm that’ll get your heart pumping.

Oxyoze – Don’t Know Why

The final track from our Hooked playlist comes from Oxyoze. That smooth production will keep you pushing right through your workout.

Fallen – Do This To Me

Next up, let’s explore the Catalyst playlist. “Do This To Me” by Fallen is a bright mix, with bubbling sounds that dance around each other and make you nod along.

Alande – Because Of Love

Check out the perfectly controlled build-ups in “Because of Love” by Alande. Another highlight from our Catalyst playlist this week with catchy melodies throughout.

Alonestar – Raise ’em up – Tropical house mix (feat. Ed Sheeran & Herbert Skillz)

Ed Sheeran has just announced that his fifth album is due in October and this week he’s here on our Catalyst playlist too, featuring on Alonestar’s tropical house remix of the catchy banger “Raise ‘em up.”

Alonestar is versatile rapper and producer Jethro Sheeran, who just so happens to be Ed’s cousin. This house remix is made for dancing barefoot in the sand, raising your cocktail up to the stars.

Juliette – velvet pillows

Our fourth playlist is full of Lo-Fi mixes. Taken from the nights shades EP, “velvet pillows” takes simple, great ideas and layers them for a relaxing study soundtrack.

Grandmaster Faff – Get Up

The brilliantly named Grandmaster Faff has released a groovy, laidback track featuring a funky guitar riff and snatches of jazzy horns – hit play and check it out below.

after noon – Late Hours

Finally, let the gentle sound of rainwater carry you away, as after noon’s “Late Hours” gives you the lo-fi vibes you need to drift off to sleep or knuckle down and concentrate for the start of the working week.

Want to feature on our ever-growing playlists? Become a RouteNote artist, and release your tracks for free. Discover more and sign up here.

Is radio still relevant for music artists?

Image Credit: Viberate

In the battle of streaming vs radio, music streaming is winning. But a new report shows we shouldn’t write off the role of the radio airwaves just yet.

With every new audio invention, the fear follows that the technology will kill what existed before. The radio vs streaming situation is no different. Does the rise of music streaming mean the end for new music on the radio? A report by Viberate found it’s more complicated than that.

Viberate’s report offers some insights into the demographic of which artists do well on the two listening mediums, from genre to generational divides. The report compared analytics of the 100 artists on Spotify with the most streams with the 100 artists with the most radio airplays in June 2021.

What are the most popular songs on the radio right now?
Image Credit: Viberate

Whilst Olivia Rodrigo had the most streams on Spotify in June 2021 with 1 billion streams, on radio Dua Lipa took the top spot at 445.3k plays. Interestingly, Michael Jackson and Queen were at fourth and fifth place on radio plays, with Drake and Justin Bieber the equivalent on streaming services. This correlates with the findings that 64% of artists played on the radio have been in the business for 15 years or more.

Image Credit: Viberate

Do people still listen to the radio?

Just as MTV didn’t mean the end of traditional radio plays, music streaming hasn’t led to radio becoming obsolete. On average, people spent 99 minutes a day listening to the radio in the US, and 140 minutes streaming. In Europe meanwhile, people spent 116 minutes listening to the radio versus 99 minutes streaming.

Image Credit: Viberate

What music gets played the most on radio?

Taking a deeper dive into what artists have the most success on the two different mediums. 75% of radio plays were in the pop (42%) and rock (33%) genres. On Spotify meanwhile, pop made up only 27% of streams, whilst hip hop made up 38% of streams.

The report found that on streaming services releases quickly build up a buzz, but that buzz dies down as soon as the next big sensation comes along. Thereafter however radio picks up the slack, with the track maintaining continued rotations on radio stations and staying on listener’s radars.

So, will we soon see the end of music being listened to on the radio? Viberate reported a co-existence between streaming, radio and video. Whilst the total volume of streams is higher, for the 100 artists with the most radio plays airplays were still up at 154k.

The difference lies in which artists perform best on different platforms and how the arc of a successful release plays out. Radio still has a role to play, especially for established artists.