December 3, 2023

After a four-year hiatus, Frank Ocean finally released his second album, “Blonde.” Although this may be an exciting time for Ocean’s fans, music labels are not as joyous.

Ocean’s independent release of “Blonde” not only is a comeback after a long absence, but has also acted as a move against his music label, Def Jam Recordings. Although the release of his concurrently released album, “Endless,” technically satisfied his contract, the independent release of “Blonde” on Apple Music communicated Ocean wanted to ditch the label and turn to a more independent approach of releasing music.

This is not the first time an artist has turned to a streaming service to share his or her music. In an article for The Verge, journalist Micah Singleton explained in an article since streaming services have become more powerful, music labels are in fear of becoming nonexistent.

“This is the nightmare scenario for music labels,” Singleton wrote. “For years, labels have feared that as streaming services grew in power and scope, there could come a time when some artists could choose to forego working with the labels and engage directly with a streaming service to reach
their fans.”

Artists like Rihanna, Beyonce, Kanye West and Chance the Rapper have exclusively released albums on services such as Apple Music or Jay Z’s TIDAL. After such big names turned to the more modern way of sharing music, it came as no surprise Ocean followed in their footsteps.

Before Ocean signed with Def Jam, mixtapes were his way of sharing with fans. With this background, Ocean is able to thrive without
a label.

Streaming services are quickly growing in popularity, but this does not make music labels irrelevant.

Paul Reyes, junior architecture major, said since music labels have been established for much longer than streaming services, music labels will
not be going anywhere anytime soon.

“Music labels have built a foundation to be as big as they are today, while streaming hasn’t been around long,” Reyes said. “It would take a lot to take the place of music labels.”

Releasing music independently through a streaming service has provided a way for artists to share their music without the attachments
of labels, and a more accessible way of receiving music for audiences. However, some music lovers still prefer physical music.

“I prefer physical copies,” Reyes said. “I like collecting music instead of just looking up a stream. I like being more old-fashioned.”

Leave a Reply