Despite its Apple exclusivity, Frank Ocean's "Blonde" has been an easy find for Internet pirates.
The first-week predictions for Frank Ocean's Blonde were just revealed, and he's set to take the No. 1 spot by a long shot, as the album is expected to move 225-250k in equivalent album units. That's not to mention the entirely separate "visual album," entitled Endless, that he put out the day before. While an audio version of Endless is not yet available, Blonde was exclusively released on iTunes as an album-only purchase (no individual tracks) and for streaming via Apple Music. Much of the album's first-week sales figures will have been generated through its streaming numbers, which have become an increasingly dominant factor in tracking album sales, especially with streaming exclusives like VIEWS and The Life of Pablo.
While streaming is up and traditional album purchases are down, it seems that a lot of fans are still readily downloading high-profile releases illegally. Not just those with Apple Music have been able to acquire Blonde. In fact, Music Business Worldwide reports that as of 7AM EST on Thurs. (Aug. 25), Blonde had been illegally downloaded 753,849 times.
Music Business Worldwide generated the above numbers via the anti-piracy company MUSO, which only tracked downloads of Blonde in its entirety and not of individual tracks, reports Complex.
Two days after Kanye West dropped his February album The Life of Pablo, released as a Tidal exclusive, it was reported that the album had already been illegally downloaded over 500,000 times. It's looking like streaming exclusives are being countered with rampant piracy. In any case, it appears there is still a huge component of the listening audience opposed to the dominance that a few streaming platforms have exercised over the releases of mainstream music, and at this point, they've found ways to get their hands on the most in-demand projects for free.