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  • Writer's pictureMajid Alhusseini

How Frank Ocean Finessed $20 Million From the Music Industry and How You Can Do the Same

Updated: Jun 4

In an industry notorious for exploiting artists and leaving them in precarious situations, some individuals such as Master P, Jay-Z, and Michael Jackson shine through with their intelligence and business acumen. They've managed to outsmart the pitfalls of the music business, creating paths to ownership and financial success. Noteworthy among them is Frank Ocean, a name you might not have expected on this list. He secured a substantial $20 million payout along with a majority stake in his royalties and publishing rights.

Before achieving fame the artist was known as Frank Ocean,served as a songwriter in the music industry. During this time, he penned songs for major artists such as Beyoncé and Justin Bieber. Despite finding fulfillment in writing for others, Ocean decided it was time to embark on his own musical journey. His transition into the public eye came through joining Tyler the Creator's Odd Future, ultimately leading to a record deal with Def Jam.

However, Ocean faced challenges with Def Jam, as they initially lacked confidence in him. Undeterred, he independently released the mixtape "Nostalgia, Ultra," which achieved tremendous success. This triumph prompted the label to rally behind him, culminating in the release of "Novacane" as a single.

Ocean's journey continued with collaborations alongside Jay Z and Kanye West on "Watch The Throne." Notably, there was a stir surrounding the leaked song "Thinking About You," originally intended for Roc Nation's artist Bridget Kelly, who included it in her EP "Every Girl."

Let's face it, Frank Ocean's journey took an exciting turn, building anticipation for his album titled "Channel Orange," which turned out to be a massive success. Following this triumph, Ocean secured a $2 million advance from Def Jam for his next album.

However, the plot thickens with the subsequent album titled "Boys Don't Cry," which, intriguingly, never saw the light of day. Speculation suggests that Apple might have stepped in, covering the two million dollar expense to regain rights for Frank Ocean. Despite this, Ocean still had to fulfill his contractual obligation with Def Jam, leading to the release of "Endless."

Sponsored by Apple Music, Endless was announced via a 140 min live stream. During the stream, it appeared to be Frank Ocean building a staircase with the instrumentals of Endless playing in a loop. The Album eventually released and his contract was fulfilled with Def Jam. He was now independent and thats when the finesse was revealed.

The very next day after Endless was released, Frank Ocean dropped Blonde exclusively via Apple Music. Blonde was #1 in 7 countries and sold 232,000 units (275,000 with album-equivalent units) in the first week. He went from owning 17% to 70% of his Royalties and Publishing. Ocean also secured a bag from Apple music for the exclusivity (rumored to be worth $20million.)

Chess moves!

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