Blonde also gave Ocean his first Number One album, improving on the Number Two debut of Channel Orange in 2012. There's no way to buy Endless-it's available only as a stream on Apple Music-and therefore there's no way of figuring out how it has performed up against albums that have been purchased. Most impressive of all perhaps, of Blonde's 276,000 units, 232,000 were in traditional album sales, which is pretty incredible considering the rise of streaming this year as a prime mover in unit calculations.
Where those earlier albums seemed to take in as much of pop music as possible - to use every sound and texture at the disposal of today's Internet-equipped creator - "Blonde" is rigorously contained, nearly ascetic in its clean-lined minimalism.
The record, which was exclusively released on Apple Music on Saturday, has since landed Frank his very first number one on the Official UK Album Charts - check out our review here. After stating that the LP would only be available on Tidal, the album was pirated 500,000 times in the three days following its release. (Spotify didn't immediately respond to a request for comment). Some might say that this is just a simple artistic decision made by Ocean for contrast, but the Def Jam/Universal Music Group CEO Lucian Grainge seems to think that there is more to the story, and his version seems a little more realistic. Beyonce, Drake, Rihanna, Kanye West and others all have done these kinds of exclusive deals, which often promise artists more income than regular streaming royalties.
According to Billboard, Universal CEO Lucian Grainge sent a company-wide email on Monday announcing that none of its subsidiaries - which include not just Def Jam but Interscope, Capitol Records and United Kingdom labels Polydor and Virgin EMI - will be releasing any music exclusive to a single platform going forward. The chief of UMG, the biggest record label in the world, has since reportedly instructed executives to cease streaming exclusives globally.