Frank Ocean Signs With Warner Chappell (EXCLUSIVE)

Frank Ocean has signed with Warner Chappell Music publishing, a source close to the situation confirms to Variety. The deal was done during the fall, the source added, noting that it was intentionally kept quiet. The deal is among several big ones made by the company’s new co-chairs Guy Moot and Carianne Marshall, along with Lizzo, Summer Walker, Ava Max and Tones & I.

Reps for Ocean and Warner Chappell declined Variety‘s requests for comment, and indeed, any announcement at all would be out of character for Ocean, who has defied music-industry tradition at nearly every turn of his decade-long career. First emerging as a member of the hip-hop collective Odd Future (which also featured Tyler, the Creator and members of the Internet), Ocean was soon collaborating with Beyonce and striking off on a solo career, first with his “Nostalgia, Ultra” mixtape and then via a deal with Def Jam that saw the release of his breakthrough 2012 album, “Channel Orange.” However, he soon cooled on his relationship with the label and negotiated an exit from Def Jam after delivering one final album, the meandering and largely instrumental “Endless,’ released on August 19, 2016. His contract fulfilled, on the following day he made the provocative move of releasing a far more serious album, “Blonde,” on his own Boys Don’t Cry label through Apple Music, which went on to become one of the most critically acclaimed sets of 2016, not to mention one of the year’s top-selling independent releases.

In the years since, Ocean has become perhaps the greatest example of an empowered artist releasing music how and when he wants. Since “Blonde” he has dropped a series of stand-alone singles ranging from “Biking,” a tag-team with Jay-Z and Tyler, the Creator, to a cover of “Moon River” to two songs released within days of each other this fall, “DHL” and “In My Room”; he’s also  guested on songs by A$AP Rocky, Travis Scott and others. His brief but galvanizing 2017 tour in support of “Blonde” was filmed by director Spike Jonze, although little has been heard of that project since. He was said to be close to a deal with Columbia Records earlier this year, but sources say talks fell off.

Ocean aired a perspective on the music industry in an interview with Gayletter earlier this year. “F—ing with major music companies, you’re going to be… deflowered,” he said. “Anytime you get into the business side of the arts, there has to be some degree of objectification or commodification that you’re comfortable with, of yourself and of your work…. A lot of people I talk to about careers in the music industry, their ideas of success have to do with nostalgia. They have to do with tropes of success, things they’ve been shown over the years that represent what a successful career is. I think that helps you become prey, because somebody can manipulate you with those things.”

More Music

  • Wu Tang An American Saga Dollface

    Hulu Renews 'Wu-Tang: An American Saga' and 'Dollface' for Season 2

    Hulu has renewed “Wu Tang: An American Saga” and “Dollface,” each for a second season. The former, created and written by Alex Tse and the RZA, is based on the formation of the Wu-Tang Clan. The first season explored the hip-hop group’s history and daily struggles of balancing its rising music career on the backdrop [...]

  • Lucian Grainge

    Universal Music Chief Lucian Grainge to Receive Star on Hollywood Walk of Fame

    Lucian Grainge — chairman/CEO of Universal Music Group, the world’s largest music company — will receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame next Thursday (Jan. 23). Fittingly, the ceremony will take place in front of the historic Capitol Records building; Capitol is one of the several Universal-owned labels under Grainge’s domain. Universal, recently [...]

  • Deborah Dugan Recording Academy Head

    Deborah Dugan’s Attorney Slams Grammys With Fiery Statement After Ouster

    Less than 12 hours after news broke that Deborah Dugan had been placed on administrative leave from her post as president/CEO of the Recording Academy, her attorney fired back with a statement. “What has been reported is not nearly the story that needs to be told. When our ability to speak is not restrained by [...]

  • Recording Academy President/CEO Deborah Dugan participates

    Grammy Shocker: Deborah Dugan Ouster Was a ‘Coup,’ Insiders Say

    UPDATED: As the music industry reeled in the wake of Deborah Dugan’s sudden removal from her post as president/CEO of the Recording Academy on Thursday — a mere five months after she’d taken charge, and just ten days before the Grammy Awards — even insiders were stunned by the abruptness of the move and perplexed [...]

  • Alfred Hitchcock and Eminem covers

    Eminem Pays Homage to Alfred Hitchcock With 'Murdered' Album Cover and Title

    Eminem may not be the Master of Suspense: He just dropped his new album, “Music to Be Murdered By,” Thursday at midnight, without even milking it with any prior warning. But he appears to be a fan of Alfred Hitchcock anyway. The new set shares its title and cover concept with the one and only [...]

  • Mac Miller Circles Album Review

    Mac Miller's 'Circles': Album Review

    If you were cynical, you might think releasing a posthumous, pieced-together Mac Miller album 16 months after his passing from an accidental drug overdose would be just one more part of the current death march of releases from deceased young rappers with pleadingly emotive lyrics and sonically rock-ist edges. Like late Soundcloud emo-rappers such as [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content