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Talented and Savvy: Frank Ocean Escapes Record Label, Pockets Millions

Talented and Savvy: Frank Ocean Escapes Record Label, Pockets Millions

Blonde

Recording artists get tiny profit margins on their lucrative music, but Ocean wasn't about to let that happen to him.

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Lauded out musician Frank Ocean not only shook up the music industry by finally releasing his long-awaited sophomore album, Blonde, but he also made a deft business move that will net him millions.

Ocean was contracturally obligated to another album from his deal with Universal Music Group. He fulfilled his end by releasing the visual -- and free -- album, Endless, on Friday. The next day, Ocean released Blonde via his own independent label, Boys Don't Cry, as an Apple Music exclusive. With Blonde on track to debut at the top of the Billboard 200 next week with nearly 250,000 album units sold, Ocean's label and the artist himself are anticipating a windfall.

Had Blonde been released through UMG, the record label would have kept a majority of the profits, and Ocean would have only taken a 14 percent share, according to Billboard. Now Ocean will reap about 70 percent of the profits of Blonde.

Universal fronted Ocean approximately $2 million to make Blonde, which the singer has already paid back. Still, some industry experts believe UMG may try to sue Ocean for releasing the album through his own label and denying it profits. While UMG representatives say they're not currently pursuing legal action, some speculate the label may take advantage of a possible clause that precludes Ocean from releasing music through another label so soon after putting out a UMG release (in this case, 24 hours).

Regardless, many industry experts see Ocean's move as brilliant, especially considering how record labels often pocket much of the profits from the artists who make them their money.

[RELATED: Frank Ocean's Poem About His Boyfriend]

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Neal Broverman

Neal Broverman is the Editorial Director, Print of Pride Media, publishers of The Advocate, Out, Out Traveler, and Plus, spending more than 20 years in journalism. He indulges his interest in transportation and urban planning with regular contributions to Los Angeles magazine, and his work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times and USA Today. He lives in the City of Angels with his husband, children, and their chiweenie.
Neal Broverman is the Editorial Director, Print of Pride Media, publishers of The Advocate, Out, Out Traveler, and Plus, spending more than 20 years in journalism. He indulges his interest in transportation and urban planning with regular contributions to Los Angeles magazine, and his work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times and USA Today. He lives in the City of Angels with his husband, children, and their chiweenie.