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Frank Ocean explains leaving Def Jam in a new interview with New York Times.
He replaced his team — new management, new lawyer, new publicist. And he began negotiations to free himself from his contract with Def Jam, the label that had signed him in 2009 and effectively shelved him until his self-released debut mixtape “Nostalgia, Ultra” caused a stir online in 2011. “A seven-year chess game” is how he described the process of buying himself out of his contract and purchasing back all of his master recordings — using his own money, he said.
You solved some rather intractable business issues. You recalibrated the cast of professionals who work on your career. Were those your main goals?
With this record in particular, I wanted to feel like I won before the record came out, and I did, and so it took a lot pressure off of me about how the record even would perform after the fact. Once the goal is met, everything else is lagniappe. It’s not essential for me to have a big debut week, it’s not essential for me to have big radio records.
What about the data side, the numbers, the sales?
I know exactly what the numbers are. I need to know. I need to know how many records I’ve sold, how many album equivalents from streaming, which territories are playing my music more than others, because it helps me in conversations about where we’re gonna be playing shows, or where I might open a retail location, like a pop-up store or something.