The Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA) has issued a statement in support of Universal’s reported ban on exclusives, despite the fact that Universal has yet to comment on the speculation
Earlier this week, rumours started circulating that Universal head Lucian Grainge had sent a company-wide email outlining a blanket ban on artist exclusives. And, according to these reports, Grainge’s decision was the result of a spat with Frank Ocean over the release of new album Blond.
It appears that Ocean had one album left to fulfil on his contract with UMG, which many believed would be the highly anticipated release that turned out to be Blond. However, the day before the album landed, Ocean released a 45-minute visual album entitled Endless, apparently closing his deal with Universal and allowing him to release Blonde as an exclusive on Apple Music via his own independent label Boys Don’t Cry. Since then, speculation has been rife as to the legitimacy of the claims regarding Universal and is supposed ban on exclusives.
Yet in spite of no official word from the company, ERA has decided to speak out in support of its as yet unsubstantiated stance, heavily criticising the exclusives model.
ERA CEO, Kim Bayley, said: “We have long believed that a level playing field is the key to healthy competition in the entertainment market. The premium music streaming sector has grown rapidly with a clear promise to consumers that they can effectively access all the music they might want for a single flat fee per month. The proliferation of exclusives means consumers are effectively forced to take out multiple subscriptions to gain access to all key releases. We believe this is damaging not just to individual services but to the market as a whole.
“We welcome reports that Universal is now moving away from exclusives and call on other labels to follow their lead.”
Should Universal move to ban exclusives, the implications could be significant for many of its key artists, including the likes of Drake, Taylor Swift, Kanye West, Katy Perry and Rihanna, who have all profited from exclusive music and/or video releases. Drake, Swift and Perry have each released exclusive content on Apple Music, while West and Rihana have used Tidal to release exclusive material.