Universal Bans Streaming Exclusives After Frank Ocean's 'Blonde' Release

Bob Lefsetz: “Most people don’t give a crap about the new Frank Ocean album.”

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Lucian Grainge, CEO of Universal Music Group, has reportedly commanded the company’s labels to stop making “exclusive” distribution deals with streaming services, just two days after Frank Ocean released his sophomore album Blonde. According to Bob Lefsetz, the author of an influential music industry newsletter, Grainge sent out a company-wide email on Monday, making UMG the first major label to ban this practice. This year, the practice of artists giving exclusives to competing streaming and download services such as Apple and Tidal, has been popular. Lefsetz says that since Apple Music is steered by Universal head Jimmy Iovine, they should be investigated by the government over anti-trust concerns because “there’s a conspiracy between Apple Music and the industry to change the game, to get everybody to pay for a subscription by putting hit content behind a paywall.” However, he notes that very few in the big picture actually care: “Most people don’t give a crap about the new Frank Ocean album. We’ve got an industry that promotes marginal products that appeal to few and makes them unavailable to most people? That’s hysterical!” Learn more about the alleged ban here.

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