By most accounts, it appears that Frank Ocean’s album Blonde is set to take the top spot on the Billboard 200 this week quite convincingly. His other project, the visual album Endless, never even had the chance. Actually, according to Billboard, Endless will probably miss out on the chart altogether. The reason? There aren’t any solid numbers for them to track.
As they explained, “The 45-minute long music video is available, only as a full-length stream, exclusively through the Apple Music streaming service—and because of that uniqueness, it is not currently eligible to chart.” As opposed to another “visual album” like Beyoncé’s Lemonade, which was eventually released in a strict audio-only format on both Apple and Tidal, Billboard is classifying Endless as a music video. Without any individual songs to break down like on Lemonade, there’s simply nothing for Billboard to really count in their weekly tabulations.
This has to come as an especially difficult blow to Def Jam, Ocean’s former label, who the singer gave the album to while releasing the more commercially viable Blonde under his own name. Back in July, Billboard reported that Def Jam’s parent company UMG spent about $2 million on the recording of Blonde, which Ocean has actually paid back, “absolving him of any recoupable claims from Def Jam/UMG.”
Nevertheless, though he appeared to fulfill his contractual obligation to UMG, many recording contracts include minimum-delivery clauses, which means he would’ve had to complete a specified number of projects—in this case, two albums—within a certain timeframe “and at a label-acceptable level of quality.” If Billboard is classifying Endless as a music video, there’s an argument to be made that Def Jam might be able to argue the same before a judge and possibly recoup some of the profits from Blonde.