Welcome back or for the very first time (what took you so long?) to the “Sports & Entertainment Spotlight”! As the torch is extinguished on, by most metrics (television ratings, in particular) a fairly underwhelming Olympic games, we turn our attention (limited as it may have been) from the five Olympic rings to the three rings (of the big top tent variety) that never seem far behind Kanye “Ye” West. Specifically, this past week, Ye announced that his highly anticipated album, “DONDA 2” would be released exclusively on his brand new $200 platform called “Stem Player” – not on streaming platforms. Now, a few things interest me about this development (none of which being: Who did/did not make the album; whether a certain reality television star and/or a certain Saturday Night Live cast member were referenced in the album; why the album release date was not met; why the audio at the livestreamed release party left much to be desired; or that the Stem Player looks like an Aspirin-Mentos lovechild (the pacemaker freshmaker?). First, as has been widely observed, is that this a shrewd marketing strategy that could serve as a model for future music releases – Ye grossed $1.3 million in revenue within just a few hours of his announcement. Of course, $200 is a lot to pay for an album, but the value proposition in the Stem Player is not just that its users gain access to the album, but also that the Stem Player allows the users to manipulate and record the so-called “stems” or component parts of a recording (e.g., drums, vocals, bass, samples) to create entirely new remixes. Given rumors of Ye having turned down a $100 million Apple distribution deal for the album, clearly there is conviction about the technology’s prospects. But putting on my lawyer hat, methinks the Stem Player could create a potential morass of copyright issues, for example, from users’ performance or distribution of remixes of others’ recordings. Any lawsuits related to the Stem Player platform could certainly hurt the bottom line, but I suppose that is mere speculation for now. Either way, I will keep tabs on the Stem Player and Ye so you don’t have to (you’re welcome). For now, I bring you this week’s highlights, for which no purchase is necessary:
- The United States Women’s National Team settled their equal pay lawsuit against the United States Soccer Federation to the tune of $24 million and a commitment to equalize pay with the Men’s National Team. Your move, [insert your preferred organization with discriminatory pay practices].
- Former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores, himself in of a lawsuit regarding discrimination and the application of the Rooney Rule, lands an assistant coaching job with the Pittsburgh Steelers, incidentally owned by… (check notes)…Rooney.
- Eight months into the name, image and likeness (NIL) era in college sports, the Division I Board of Governors is convening a review of the effects of NIL deals amongst other things, student-athletes’ mental health as part of its efforts to formulate a lasting NIL policy. The Spotlight has exclusively obtained an unofficial draft of the report reproduced here: .
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