Few albums in 2016 come as hotly anticipated as Frank Ocean’s follow up to 2012’s Channel Orange- the news even inspired a smart-phone app that texts fans the moment the new album drops– however the leak of Ocean’s “visual album” Endless- the last album on Ocean’s current record deal- has caused more than a few ripples, with Universal Music Group now considering a ban on streaming exclusives entirely.
Lucian Grange, CEO of Universal Music Group- which includes labels including EMI, Polydor, Interscope, Geffen, and hip-hop juggernaut Def Jam- announced the ban to staff via an internal e-mail shortly after a public Dropbox link to the Apple Music exclusive “Endless” appeared on message board Reddit. Strangely, despite Dropbox both adhering strictly to DMCA take down requests, the is still active at the time of writing, sparking rumours the leaks are the work of Ocean himself, coming only a day before his own self-released “studio album” Blond appearing on all major streaming and download platforms.
“Streaming exclusives” have gained significant traction particularly in the hip-hop and RnB world, with albums from both Rihanna and Beyoncé arriving on the Jay-Z helmed Tidal weeks before their competitors; and last year Apple music were reported to have spent $19 million to premier Drake’s Views.
However, with UMG considered one of the most powerful businesses in the music industry, and streaming giant Spotify claiming exclusive albums are “bad for artists and bad for fans“, this could soon be a thing of the past.
Read more about the streaming waves in The Guardian.