Billboard — On July 22, West filled Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium with 42,000 fans who paid between $25 to $100 a ticket for a Donda listening party, supervised by Balenciaga creative director Demna Gvasalia. The party was livestreamed for free by Apple Music with the idea that West’s album would drop the next day — which it didn’t. Instead, two weeks later, West held another event that featured an updated version of the album, broke Apple Music livestream records with 5.4 million viewers and drove about $7 million in in-person merchandise sales, sources close to West say. Still no album. Now, West is planning to hold what he says is the last listening party on Aug. 26 at Chicago’s Soldier Field, after which he says the album will finally be released.
The listening parties in Atlanta grossed between $1.5 million and $2.7 million apiece for the rapper, Billboard estimates. (The shows did not report sales to Billboard Boxscore.)
Please stop giving Kanye West outrageous amounts of money for doing dumb shit. I'm asking nicely.
I love pretty much all of Kanye's music. But it's entirely possible at this point that Donda is a social experiment to see how much money an artist can make for an album that never actually gets released. And if that is the case, Kanye is definitely winning.
If you want to pay between $25 and $100 for a ticket to go watch Kanye West walk around Mercedes-Benz Stadium while an album plays over the speakers, you are more than welcome to do that. This is America. And if my theory is correct, it's one of the only times you'll ever hear that album, anyway, so it's arguably worth it.
But when I read that Kanye brought in $7 million in merch from those two shows, my jaw hit the floor. If there were 42,000 people at both shows, that's an average of $83 per person. And I feel it bears repeating that this is for an album that we aren't sure actually exists.
I respect the hell out of this guy. He's a finesse legend the likes of which we have never seen before. People will follow wherever he leads and continue throwing money at him. I'm sure Soldier Field will be filled to the brim for the next show, as will the stadium that hosts the one after that.
But this album is not real.