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The decision by Universal Music Group to end exclusives may have also quashed an Apple Music deal involving Lady Gaga and Universal's Interscope label, a report claimed on Friday.
The exact terms of the Lady Gaga deal weren't mentioned by HITS Daily Double. Universal CEO Lucian Grainge is believed to have halted exclusives after a debacle with Frank Ocean, who recently released a visual album on Apple Music for Universal's Def Jam in order to fulfill obligations, but then quickly released another album — Blonde — on his own label as an Apple Music exclusive. As a more conventional release, Blonde is also likely to be more profitable.
Sources for HDD claimed that Universal was unaware Ocean had a second album ready to go. The artist could potentially find himself in legal trouble, depending on whether or not his contract included a standard clause preventing him from releasing two albums simultaneously the way he did.
Apple is now regularly wielding exclusives as its main weapon against rivals in the streaming space. While most of these deals are temporary, some albums — most notably Taylor Swift's 1989 — are permanently locked up. Universal's shift away from exclusives could undermine Apple's strategy.