Published Aug 23, 2016In the wake of Frank Ocean's recent Blonde and Endless releases through Apple, recording industry titan and Universal Music Group CEO Lucian Grainge is rumoured to have set his sights on banning exclusive distribution deals with streaming services.
While word has yet to come from Universal proper, industry analyst Bob Lefsetz informed his newsletter subscribers [via HipHopNMore/The Guardian] that Grainge "sent out an email to Universal executives today ending all future exclusives with Universal artists." This was apparently sent out yesterday (August 22).
If it manages to go through, the excising of streaming exclusives would affect a number of high-profile recording artists, including Kendrick Lamar, Taylor Swift, the Weeknd and Alabama Shakes. It would also affect Drake, who is signed to Universal-backed Republic Records but first delivered both this year's VIEWS and his 2015 Future team-up What a Time to Be Alive through Apple. Plus, there's Universal imprint Def Jam's Frank Ocean and Kanye West, the latter having delivered his The Life of Pablo through Tidal earlier this year.
As for Lefsetz, a recent post through his newsletter targetted the streaming services like Apple Music and Tidal for throwing up a paywall on music fans. He believes a free tier service, like Spotify's, is the way to go.
"Apple Music is a me-too product that works badly that's locked behind a paywall and the music industry wants it to be the dominant platform so the fan is squeezed and indie acts are pushed down to the bottom where they belong," he wrote, ultimately chastising artists that are a part of the scheme.
"Shame on you Frank, and shame on everybody else who takes money from Apple and screws fans," Lefsetz continued. "There's enough money in music without taking every last buck, and the joke is on you, for thinking so short term, you want your music available to everybody, because in these days of information overload we need nobody, everybody is superfluous, you don't want to enter the marketplace with one hand tied behind your back."