One big revelation about Endless was that it reportedly fulfilled Ocean’s contract with Def Jam, allowing him to release Blonde independently under a label called Boys Don’t Cry. This news, along with Universal Music Group’s CEO Lucian Griange sending a company-wide memo to record labels to stop streaming exclusives, makes it difficult for someone to listen to either of Ocean’s projects without signing up for Apple Music.
Not surprisingly, music piracy is still on the rise in 2016. According to data provided to Music Business Worldwide, Ocean’s Blonde was illegally downloaded 753,849 times on Thursday (midday UK time). These numbers came from MUSO, which is described as a content protection, data analytics, and piracy audience reconnection specialist.
MUSO's data doesn’t factor in single track downloads, so the figure only reflects piracy of the entire album.
In a similar, eye-opening number for a big release, Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo was downloaded over half a million times on BitTorrent, circumventing the need to sign up for Tidal to hear it exclusively on their platform.
Blonde is still expected to make an impact on the Billboard 200 chart when its first-week numbers come in. Hits Daily Double predicts it will sell around 230,000 copies.