Frank Ocean Released Channel Orange Early To Avoid Leaks

By Rebecca Thomas

Frank Ocean caught fans a bit off guard when he suddenly dropped his Channel Orange album a week early, but he admits that it wasn’t a spur of the moment decision.

Target may not be stocking copies of the album, but the Odd Future heartthrob has no regrets about accelerating his album’s street date. In fact, to hear him tell it, it was all by design.

“It was actually the plan all along,” Frank told BBC 1 Radio’s Zane Lowe in a phone chat on Thursday. “I kinda wanted to mirror what … Jay and Kanye did with Watch the Throne, preventing the leak by staggering digital and physical dates.” He was referring to the Throne’s inventive (and ultimately successful) decision to release their joint disc exclusively to iTunes three days ahead of its scheduled drop date.

Ocean added that his team was onboard to collect rewards in the long-run, even if sacrifices (first-week sales numbers, for instance) were made in the short. And the strategy already looks to be paying off as the achingly soulful album, which chronicles in part the New Orleans native’s euphoric (if failed) romance with a man, heads for a #2 open on the charts after debuting at #1 on iTunes.

“My thing was I wanted all the promotional elements to be, I don’t know if the word is retroactive, but [to] kind of follow the album with the videos and the tour and do everything after and kinda just let the music speak for itself for a second,” a “stoked” Ocean went on to tell BBC 1.

Of course, Ocean’s approach to preventing #DigitalEraProblems has some other unintended consequences. In battling the sneak leak, management and the label had to agree to put the sealed and packaged copies of Channel Orange on lockdown. So well-executed that not even the Nostalgia, Ultra crooner has had the pleasure yet of tugging the adhesive tape off his first studio album, passing his fingers over the credits.

“I haven’t even held one in my hands,” Ocean admitted. “I’m actually still designing the package for vinyl. The physical [CDs] are done, but when we sent them in, they were locked down at the manufacturer. They haven’t left. They never went on trucks [to retailers] because that’s where things leak,” he added of the July 17 release.

Still, after a heady week of revelations and warm critical reception from fans and press and a stirring stage performance, Frank looks forward to sitting in his L.A. pad with the orange-and-white case bearing his name. “It will be a glorious day for me.”