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Thread: Exclusively Released Frank Ocean 'Blonde'

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    Get some industry opinion on the new Frank Ocean Album's Excluaive Release on Apple Music from The Lefsetz Letter

    Exclusive Frank Ocean

    Lefsetz Letter » Blog Archive Frank Ocean Exclusive - Lefsetz Letter

    Re-Exclusive Frank Ocean

    The hip built a 30 year career on doing things for fans first........ Ugh

    Jake Gold


    I couldn't agree more. Exclusives hurt the fan... PERIOD! Short term dollars and small thinking. They could have promoted this on every streaming platform and got way more out of the launch. SMH

    Justin Bartek


    You are so, so right. Kudos to Spotify for staying the course.

    Jim Urie


    Please withhold my name.

    I'm a marketing executive at a major. I can tell you that we are completely against exclusives. We see it as a step back from all the progress we've made in the last 5 years with weaning fans off of illegal downloads to legal music services. There are still so many people that do not understand how streaming works and we already want to give hoops to jump through. The concept of a music exclusive in the digital age is ridiculous.

    Personally, I'm a Spotify Premium user and do not plan on switching to Apple. If they truly want to beat Spotify, they should just create a better service, but seems like they can't.


    Screw Apple. I wanted it to be my go to steaming app but it had so many bugs I just went back to Spotify. Now only if Spotify had a cloud service I could upload my non Spotify music to, which, sadly, Apple has with Match, my music experience would be perfect.

    Dave Lincoln


    You speak like somebody who's never torrented an album in their life ya fogie! Believe me, I'm excited as hell about the new Frank Ocean, and I'm going to listen to it. Same with most people my age. But I don't pay fealty to Apple Music, I just know how to download things illegally. Frank Ocean will get my money at shows because that money, I'm assuming, will actually get to him. But I'm not giving any money to Apple. They're just screwing us over, and their product sucks.



    Been waiting for 4 years for this and it's not even music..or art. It's like Frank's random drug fueled thoughts put to GarageBand beats. Highly disappointed. His mix tapes before he was signed were the real deal but now he's just another sell out to the big machine for dough.



    I’m a Spotify subscriber because the Apple Music is a bad app.

    I haven’t listened to Beyonce’s last two albums not to protest exclusives but I never got around to it. Same will happen with Frank Ocean even though I liked his last album. In the past I would pirate it, now it’s not worth the hassle.

    The music industry doesn’t realize their competition is attention. I don’t listen to as much music as I used to, way more podcasts.

    Raymond Traylor


    Bob I'm officially unsubscribe to this. You have no vision anymore you are part of the dragging industry. Frank Ocean album is great and although I love Adele to compare the both is not even fair.

    Juan Hernandez


    With an endless amount of content available at our fingertips, time, not cash begins to really separate from the pack as far as it being our most valuable commodity.

    Marty Winsch


    Bob, labels approach to Apple and Spotify is like how they were in bed with record clubs back in the day. Take the money and run. "You are putting my artist's music behind a paywall where only diehard fans will go for it. I don't care. Did our check clear?" The beauty of radio was no paywalls. Everybody heard the music and could then buy it. Putting paywalls up is going to kill acts.

    Larry LeBlanc


    You're right. I'm one of those music fans that can care less about Frank Ocean and his new album.



    I want the new Frank Ocean album. I won't buy it via Apple. I want to own it in the format of my choosing.



    Agree 100% - I’ve actually been a Frank Ocean fan since the beginning, but I have no interest in deciphering how to access his new album. I went to his Tumblr blog which led me down a wormhole to itunes and then….?

    I haven’t heard the latest Adele, Beyonce, or Kanye, either. By the time they arrive on Spotify (with no fanfare or notice), I’ve lost interest and moved on to something else.

    I have too many Howards to catch up on too keep track of this stuff anyway.

    Best Regards,
    Zach Goode


    Exclusives aren't good for anyone.

    Maybe its just not my style, but that album was nothing special. People will overreact and say its album of the year, until the next one comes out.

    Ryan Jacobs


    Bravo Bob- Spot on about the biz. Overkill these days on marketing and gimmic too. 2 Frank Ocean albums in 1 week but 1/2 the tracks on both releases are interludes/vignettes/under 2 minute "experimental" tracks. Greed, plain and simple.

    Daniel Woods


    Rolling Stone, Fader all of them are talking about Frank Ocean's recent releases. Cant find anything better to talk about. I like stories about new artists. Where is the best place for that?

    John Kauchick


    This is a lot of drama over a two week exclusive.

    Ryan Heller


    And guess who is
    Doing a FUNDRAISER
    for Hillary on Wednesday...


    Marc Brickman


    Just went to Pirate Bay and downloaded both albums, Endless nicely broken down into tracks for me, playing it on my iPhone now. Interestingly, I felt compelled to buy Radiohead's recent album, they sold it direct to fans and it was available pretty much everywhere straight away - no games played with fans and no feeling that I was part of a greater corporate battleground. That was the way to do it.

    Jeremy Redmore


    The free-tier is important, but not so much as making music available on all the streaming platforms. Every platform is selling it's product on the idea that, once you pay, you'll have access to all the music. And with releases exclusive only to a specific platform, their sales pitch becomes a sham. It decreases the inherent value of what the actual subscribers are paying for: access to music!

    It's a crutch the services use to make up for the shoddiness of the user-interface side of their product and in the long run it'll hurt them more than it helps them.

    Apple Music wouldn't have to offer exclusive anything if it was an easier product to use, period.

    Christopher Kapolas


    He's preaching to the converted, the ones (like me) who will lay down $9.99 to buy the album without hearing it. But you are so right that he's losing out on discovery - the curious people who want to check it out at the height of the media exposure. Based on his Grammy appearance from a few years ago, I'm not surprised he would shoot himself in the foot commercially!


    Jeremy Shatan


    Truly sad. All it really proves is only a few people will hear the record.
    The rest will wait patiently until it hits "Spot." And once it does, if it doesn't live up to the Channel Orange legend, he's forgotten.
    I'll be honest, I still haven't spun Adele's latest. I've lost interest...

    Adam Franklin


    Didn't our mythical fall from grace thing happen when Adam and Eve took a bite from The Apple? Hmmmm....

    Paul Koidis


    Have you even listened to the record?

    Billy Taylor


    I am a fan of Channel Orange and really anticipated this new album, but after finding out its exclusivity to Apple, and only releasing the magazine in four major cities, it's BS. I would have loved a copy, not to sel on eBay like the 100 or so copies going for up to $1000.

    Glad to see Frank cares about his fans in the smaller parts of the country and world.

    William Martin



    What is the difference between what Frank Ocean and other artists that you constantly lambaste are doing, versus what artists like The Eagles (as well as KISS, AC/DC, Garth Brooks, and even BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN) used to do with Wal-Mart?

    Sure, the days of Napster, where everyone could download music for free, was great. Hey, I was a middle-school kid with a $20 weekly allowance, that now had the ability to get unlimited music. But today, paying $10 a month for unlimited music, without the fear of downloading a virus or a fake song, is equally, if not more wonderful.

    In an ideal world, music should be available for everyone, for free. But we don't live in an ideal world. We pay for health care, we have to pay for the food on our plates, we pay for our cable and our streaming services... Really, what is the difference between what Frank Ocean is doing with Apple Music and the Netflix smash "Stranger Things?" If you want to watch Stranger Things, you need Netflix, which comes along with a monthly subscription. Why no outcry at the creators for not putting it on basic cable for all to enjoy?

    Hernando Courtright


    Agree. This is why I didn’t give in and buy it. Streamed it on SoundCloud. Oops.

    Chelsea Williams


    The free tier is radio.

    Everything else is just plain wrong.

    I understand the new paradigm.

    And the idea Apple should be investigated for anti-trust is the mark of a true leftie.

    Antitrust is a massive conspiracy that goes against business and consumers.

    So, sorry Bob, but bollocks.

    Somehow, somewhere, the industry has to find a way to enable writers and performers to get paid.

    You’re part of the problem, not he solution. Napster was criminal. Full stop.

    Paul Phillips


    While I agree with much of this I still wonder, where is the great online hope for music that takes care of the musician, the consumer and the management ???

    Brian Allman


    Truth be told I wouldn't bother with the Frank Ocean release if I didn't already have Apple Music.

    The exclusives, as you've well noted, are self defeating. When Adele refrained from making "25" available for streaming, I just passed. With 30 million other tracks at my fingertips, I had no trouble finding something else new and interesting to listen to. When it was finally released for streaming a couple of months ago, it was cool to finally hear. It was worthy of the wait. But the wait was meaningless.

    Exclusive is not synonymous with special.

    Michael Evans


    Spot on as per useeee...

    Michael Sherr


    DAMN LEFSETZ. shots. fired.

    Tyler Evanston Moore



    Fred Mollin


    Right on Bob as usual for calling them out!!

    Val Garay



    Charlie Hanna


    Why do you hate on Apple Music so much?
    It makes Spotify look like the inept musical excel spreadsheet it really is!
    No wonder they can't get any of the decent new releases on their service.
    Move with the times!
    Paul Anthony Tucker


    I agree with this completely. All of these exclusive acts play the role as an advertisement for Apple Music. This doesn't change the fact that I'm a college student who can't justify paying for the service when I can hardly pay for groceries every week. It's just annoying because I do want to listen to the albums but I'm stuck in the free tier of Spotify until I can make some more money, so I will have to wait to hear Frank Ocean. Very relatable article!

    Dayne Meyerink


    Listen to his album, digest the album, make an attempt to understand what true art is before making judgements like these. An artist deciding how they want their art consumed is their prerogative. If you understood who he was and the culture that he come from then you'd understand how what he's doing transcends the conversation you are lumping him in.

    Daouda Leonard


    Add to this the fact that three Frank Ocean pop-up shops that materialized to hype the release passed out a free magazine with the album on CD that are now surfacing on Ebay for over $500 each...

    Matt Nixon

    always always always ahead of the pack/curve bob...thanks.

    Gary William Mendel

    Interesting comments. My buddy and I are in our mid-40s and are heavy users of Spotify. We've each learned of new acts and music over the last couple of years through this streaming platform. One idea we've had, that I would think the artists would want and that Spotify should want to get good will from the artists, is for Spotify to add a digital tip jar. Talk about disruptive to the labels! Imagine liking a band and paying them directly. I try to buy albums still of bands that I really like, but how much more convenient for the artist. Would be interested in your thoughts on the idea and the likelihood of such a model developing. Take care!

    William Still

    Frank Who? I swear I have no idea who he is, nor do I care.

    Leigh Goldstein


    I’m with you on most of this. But I’m not sure what your solution looks like. If everything is available on every different streaming service, there wouldn’t be much competition. Ultimately, one company would end up winning and have a monopoly on streaming music, which seems very problematic (and unlikely).

    Or, maybe you envision a world where everything is available on all services, but there are small differentiating factors, like quality, interface, usability, etc. But even in that world, long term there may only be two or three options at best — sort of like cable. But still in that world there are ad-ons/ pay-per-views/ special channels, etc.

    My point is I don’t see another world. I’m with you on the griping, but I feel like there’s nothing we can do about it. Just hope you have a friend who can rip it and send it to you. That’s what I did for LEMONADE & The Life of Pablo (until it was released on Spotify). And that’s sort of how it’s always been. You either ponied up, or you got a 2nd hand copy.

    I foresee some sort of a combination of Spotify and Bandcamp— you have to "pay what you want" to unlock a record - could be $.01 or it could be $10 - then you can stream it all you want, with royalties trickling to the band. I think a small monthly fee is still necessary, though. But also could see it going another direction that is much more difficult to navigate and much more expensive.


    Mitchell Parrish

    You nailed it on this one. My wife is a contributor to a few different horror movie websites and for the past few weeks all the talk has been Netflix's "Stranger Things." Included in the love for the show has been the love for the soundtrack, and immediately everyone was wondering when it would be released. Spotify put out a "Stranger Things" playlist, but no original score on it. Then Lakeshore Records announced they were putting it out, and after a big build up for a Friday, August 12th release, I hear cussing from my wife that morning. Apparently the release was only on iTunes, and she's an Android person. I told her, "I'll grab it on my iPhone, we'll have it for our trip." "That's not the point! I can't buy it, I can't even stream it!" So she tweets Lakeshore, who responds with an apology, stating they were sorry it's only available on iTunes but soon, hopefully the 19th, it will be available on Google Play (currently it's still not). It's now the 21st and interest is lost in the soundtrack already in our household, and as we talk to friends and other writers she works with, that seems to be the general consensus. Why have a show that's available on a service that's on all platforms, but then put out a companion piece that's only available on one specific platform? At least a few years ago when a band put out a cd with a "Best Buy Exclusive Track," I could still go to any other record (or department) store and get the album if my town didn't have a Best Buy. There's no incentive to buy when your device doesn't and will never have that specific store on it. And musical attention spans are extremely short, especially when "Stranger Things-The Soundtrack" won't be doing 150 shows a year on the road.

    Alexa is so cool, I now wish the Fire Phone would have been a hit.

    --Adam Odor

    Right on point.

    Nick Cooper

    Blissfully ignorant, that’s me. Almost every email you send out, I look at and think, “Who’s that?”

    It honestly feels good.

    Frank Ocean?

    And wow, are you ever right about the movie industry. I can never find ANYTHING i have on my list of movies I want to see, new and old. I mean, 60-year old classics, or last year’s hit, acclaimed foreign director…they’re not there! Used to be, Netflix DVDs had everything. Now Netflix has f***-all.

    Rob Meurer


    The press wasn't interested in "Lean on" because Diplo making a hit isn't news, and the singer is disposable. The chorus of the song is a single syllable, chopped up and played back. They could have recorded a pet monkey and still made a hit. Forget Lieber and Stoller, today's hitmakers are "cut" and "paste".

    M0's album dropped like 3 years ago and didn't make a splash. Frank ocean is (putatively) an artist (whose career was sidelined after a shitty Grammy performance that was almost certainly playback-related) that is at least a face that can sell T-shirts.

    Adele succeeds because she was stage managed, carefully, by the English system which still has fans that pay for records and labels that pay for studios, backup singers, real musicians, vintage gear, etc... And she has a fan base of lovelorn women, which is why she's still milking that same breakup 3 albums later. (They are repeating it in a male version with Sam Smith, it is so successful). Frank Ocean's last album was literally vocal + keyboard, that's it, and I don't know who his fan base is except the novelty seekers.

    Apple's doing it wrong but don't fault them for trying. There's no American Adele that has the same level of investment, not even close. If I'm wrong, tell me who.

    Billy White

    Hi Bob,

    I still run an aged iPhone 4. Not even a 4s. I bought the thing outright years and years ago, and while it still works (just) may as well see it to its grave. Naturally I haven't updated it in years. Yet in the past month suddenly I get pop ups from Apple, ten times daily, urging me to sign into my iCloud. Which I've never signed up to, as far as I remember. I just press cancel, I'm not interested. Yet it's another sign that Apple will keep on pushing, and pushing, and pushing, even if we repeatedly press cancel. They won't take no for an answer.

    As for Frank Ocean. I can't really blame him too much. Chances of getting a reasonable, never mind serious, buck in the hand are getting lower and lower, all the time. And careers are getting shorter. And no doubt this is all part of the new release strategy- subscribers first, the hoi polloi quite a lot later when 90% of the hype/streams/sales have gone already. It's now standard policy even for hobbyists on Bandcamp...

    All the best

    Tom Green

    You still don't seem to understand it Bob.

    Napster was not a consumer revolution, it was a CRIMINAL revolution.

    And in it the s***tiest people rose to the top. The people who couldn't care about anyone else are now tasked with welfare of a corporation, of investors, and of clients.

    Guess what, they are continually failing in that position. Only way they can count clients is if they give the product away, of course it's not anything which THEY have worked at that is being given away - it's that of others.

    As for the argument that people wanted singles and not albums, well singles have always been available ... 45s, cassette singles, cd singles... and online: a company called Liquid Audio pre-dated Napster et al with 99 cent tracks which were of professional quality and made certain rights holders were paid.

    Instead the terrorists won.

    We're in a situation now where the music execs that are left don't know what to do, and so they're now following the movie industries lead and are going to be alienating customers even more.

    People still want 'ownership' of music - the older guard is smart enough to know that if they are not in control that the powers that be will soon take it away. And others are realizing that streaming isn't what it's all cracked up to be... dead zones, low bitrates, advertisements...

    Dan Yotz

    I think Kanye paved the new course for not caring about radio and just making a great conceptual art album. and at the end of the day, those who do that right end up with one of the best albums of the year with no hit, no care.
    Adele has never made a product which competes in that realm, probably never will, as singers typically don't.

    This idea that all artists must be striving to have a great classic singalong album which wins in sales and radio, is a fading idea. It'll always be there, but it's no longer thee goal for all.

    For what it matters, Frank Beyonce Chance and Adele will battle for album of the year.
    There will be another Kanye moment if 25 wins.

    Jon O'Neil

    Bob -- you missed the point with this one.

    Despite this story you weave of the fledgling music industry and its poor customers, that is not the true lesson here. Your first line should have read: "Frank Ocean is helping keep the passion of music alive."

    I just bought the album on iTunes. Haven't listened to it yet but pressing 'Buy' gave me that rush I haven't felt in years. I don't buy music anymore due to Spotify, SoundCloud, and torrents. But for the price of a drink in an LA bar, I can now spend the next hour and a bit soaking up one of my favorite artists.

    When I heard Frank was releasing this as an Apple Music exclusive a few weeks ago I was pissed. I thought it selfish. But now I get it. In a few weeks time it'll be everywhere anyway. These first few days are for the true fans, where we can enjoy the album without the added mess of the mainstream opinion.

    So while you shame Mr. Ocean and add to the media's nonsense, I'll be sitting here enjoying his sweet serenades.

    Scott Korchinski

    No. Just no.

    I don't think Frank Ocean got in bed with Apple because of the money or even piracy. Channel Orange was a mixtape for chrissakes.

    I think he did it because of Connect.

    He produced a 45-minute FILM art piece debuting a very painstakingly timed and mixed medley of his music with a visual metaphor. He wants to be multi-dimensional and multi-platform. And not just digital and CD and vinyl, he wants print and film and streaming/digital audio. There is rumoured to be a comic book or graphic novel type publication to go along with this album. And Endless was a masterpiece to those of us with an attention span of at least an hour.

    Spotify doesn't have an HD video option. It doesn't have a bookstore. Apple does. One-stop-shop. And free tier or not, Frank has made a one-man show, a story, an album. You can't interrupt that with ads for car insurance and other albums. Have a word with yourself, Bob.

    Have you forgotten there are SOME artists out there who still make ART and actually care about the best way to debut it to the world? If he was all about the money, he would be Drake, shitting out an album every 30 seconds or Kanye, saying ANYTHING to keep himself in the press and having a platform to whinge about how none of the fashion people will play with him at the playground.

    Frank needed a company with a distribution arm capable of releasing all his work. ALL his work. Not just the songs.

    And please stop with the Adele praise. I love her. She's talented beyond measure. But she's not like Frank Ocean and she would be the first to say it. She writes sad songs and love songs and sings amazingly well. But Frank has a list of contributors that span the generations, the world, genres, levels of musical talent, mediums of art and pioneers in technology. They don't sign on to Adele records because they know they're the out-of-focus guys behind the diva. With Frank these contributors were hand-picked, valued for what they would bring to the table, and doing what Frank wants, but cannot do or doesn't want to do himself.

    I still have Apple Music, because I like the extra content, I like being able to see and hear artists. Maybe I'm from the "I Want My MTV" generation, but I don't want to have to sit through an ad for pampers before I watch a music video. And I'm not alone. MTV just brought back Classic and The 90s because some of us wanna know what our favourite band looks like and wouldn't mind watching a 3 minute video of their visual interpretation of their song. Frank pushed the envelope as he always does. And I love him for it.

    I couldn't care less about Tidal and Lemonade and all that nonsense. Because Beyoncé jumped the shark ages ago and Kanye is just annoying. But there is a reason Frank chose Apple and it isn't money. Or he would have gone with Tidal. No doubt.

    Be careful who you accuse of being money hungry and disingenuous. I applaud Frank for being critical and tasteful and patient and fighting to get his work made his way. It's rare. And don't think for a second his record label didn't hound him a bit to release the damn record already.
    And his tumblr is humorous. Because he knows he is a pain in the ass. But he also knows his work is worth waiting for -- and it was.

    Angela Randall

    Is Frank related to Billy?

    Todd Devonshire


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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Thanked 71 Times in 70 Posts
    Haters, but I agree with the core theme. Streaming is new to a lot of people and exclusives encourage people to pirate. I'm an Apple Music user myself and I love my experience. I like Spotify Playlists but I can easily port it over to Apple Music

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