Despite its idiosyncratic format, “Endless” — one long streaming
film, whose songs (different from those on “Blonde”) were not
available separately — fulfilled Mr. Ocean’s contractual
obligations to Def Jam, enabling him to release “Blonde” through
Apple without any involvement from the label, according to three
people with knowledge of Mr. Ocean’s deal who spoke on the
condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss
it publicly. The financial arrangement between Mr. Ocean and Apple
is not known. Apple, Def Jam and a representative for Mr. Ocean’s
managers all declined to comment.
Record labels, more and more, are unnecessary middlemen, especially for well-known acts.