And it may have something to do with Frank Ocean.
Earlier this week, it was rumored that Universal Music Group chairman and CEO Lucian Grainge had put the kibosh on giving streaming platforms like Apple Music and Tidal album exclusives. The tidbit, which Billboard has now confirmed as true, came after Frank Ocean released a pair of albums with Apple Music – one visual album called Endless, that we have now learned fulfilled Ocean’s contract with Def Jam (owned by Universal). Blond was released independently via Ocean’s own label Boys Don’t Cry. It is, however, still unclear whether or not Ocean gave Grainge incentive to make the call ending exclusivity periods.
This is not the first tumultuous streaming exclusive the label has rolled out this year. Rihanna’s ANTI and Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo were arguably (or, at least, publicly) much more unseemly for Def Jam.
Apple has yet to comment on this matter, although they are still in contract with UMG-owned Cash Money to stream a documentary about the New Orleans label’s origin story late this year.