It’s time to talk about Frank Ocean.
As much as we’ve been putting it off, the release of “Blonde” (or “Blond” if you take it from the album art) has posed several challenges to the music and streaming industry.
For one, Ocean broke off ties with Universal Music Group’s Def Jam label after supposedly fulfilling his contract with the “Endless” visual album released exclusively to Apple Music the day before “Blonde” came out. Sources to The New York Times say that UMG is beginning to limit exclusivity deals with digital streaming services — though we aren’t sure if Ocean left because of the policy.
“Blonde” is also an Apple Music exclusive, but Ocean will get more of the proceeds and will have more control over where his audience gets his music. Ocean is said to have been deliberating between Tidal and Apple Music.
Here’s the part of the story that’s in contention: Spotify, which does not partake in exclusivity deals, was said to have told executives at two labels that it would not give as much spotlight or as many features to works and artists who have benefited from exclusive deals.
Bloomberg‘s explicitly reporting from its sources that artists who struck exclusives with Apple or Tidal have been told by Spotify that their songs would not be in featured playlists and would appear lower in search results listings. This seems to have been going on over the past year with an intensification of the policy over the past few months. This practice disproportionately affects new and upcoming artists than the big names you see plastered on Beats One radio shows and the home screen of Tidal.
Spotify responded to the report by telling multiple outlets that the results burying claim is “unequivocally false,” but would not comment on its promotional consideration.
Spotify leads the pack in subscriber count, recently at 30 million compared to Apple Music’s 15 million and Tidal’s under-5 million.