Billboard’s Dan Rys writes:
After an interminable wait (in music industry standards, at least), Ocean fulfilled his contractual obligations, sources tell Billboard, and increased his potential profit share from 14 percent to 70 percent of total revenues from Blond within a 24-hour period, seemingly pulling a fast one on the biggest music company in the world in the process. Def Jam and its parent Universal, stuck with an overshadowed visual album that isn’t for sale, and cut out of any revenue from the “proper” album that’s headed to the top of the charts on the strength of 225,000 to 250,000 equivalent album units earned in the week ending Aug. 25, were left with what amounts to a very long music video and without one of their marquee artists.
For one, many record contracts are based on minimum-delivery clauses, meaning that if Ocean’s deal was just for two albums, he typically would have had to deliver them within a set time frame, and at a label-acceptable level of quality, in order to fulfill his contract. In addition, most recording contracts stipulate a window of time during which an artist can’t release music on any other label, so as not to compete with the current project — in this case, DefJam’s Endless. By delivering Blond within just 24 hours, it raises the question of whether Universal even knew it was coming — and what they could have done about it regardless.