UMG takes a stand against streaming exclusives.
In 2016, exclusive album releases have gone from virtually non-existent to the new normal. This year alone, Future, Rihanna, Kanye West, Beyoncé, Drake, Chance the Rapper, and Frank Ocean all released albums via either Apple Music or TIDAL. Many have criticized the practice and argued that it actually harms album sales. In a move likely to cause a ripple effect across the music industry, Universal Music Group, a company that released seven of the 10 best-selling albums of 2015, has reportedly ordered every label under its umbrella to stop signing exclusive streaming distribution deals.
According to The Guardian, the order came from the top: UMG CEO Lucian Grainge, regarded as the most powerful man in the music industry. Grange announced the change in a company-wide email sent out Monday.
The first person to report the news was Bob Lefsetz, an industry insider who is vehemently opposed to streaming exclusives. “There’s a conspiracy between Apple Music and the industry to change the game, to get everybody to pay for a subscription by putting hit content behind a paywall," he wrote on his blog over the weekend. “Most people don’t give a crap about the new Frank Ocean album. We’ve got an industry that promotes marginal products that appeal to few and makes them unavailable to most people? That’s hysterical!”