The channel Orange Struggle
Nostalgia, Ultra was added to my iTunes library May 21, 2011. Since this date, I have been patiently waiting for Frank Ocean to release his debut album. Along with his not-so-confession of bisexuality, the world was surprised with the digital release of the coveted channel ORANGE album. I felt bad when I saw it trending in fear of an album leak. I knew Frank could deliver a solid project. I have 107 songs by or featuring Frank Ocean and he’s delivered on 96% of them, which qualifies as real music in my book. Naturally, I would hate to see a quality product stolen but to my pleasant surprise, I saw he’d surprised the world. A week early? GREAT! I KNEW there was a download link somewhere and I found it fairly quick. I downloaded it illegally and felt jitters.
Now before you judge me, I work in the music industry. I’m against burning, ripping, downloading, etc. QUALITY music. Some music you need to download, most often debuts. Why download debuts? Because artists are inconsistent, they put out commercial music, and it often turns away potential life-long fans, or they're simply inexperienced so they need a test drive. If the album is good, I buy it. I will not assist in killing an industry I’m a part of. If it evolves, fine but I’m not stealing. That’s cutting my paycheck short before I even get it. Anyway.
I pressed play as Frank gave me eargasm after eargasm. I couldn’t contain myself. It’s easily one of the top 3 releases this year. I could not wait until the 17th to purchase a physical copy. I don’t do digital releases because I feel cheated. Shipping, artwork, duplication, album credits and all that are factored into the price. It just doesn’t make sense to purchase a digital copy.
After pulling an all-nighter editing a documentary on the future of hip hop, I walked in Best Buy only to see no orange square anywhere on the shelves. My first thought was “F-ck. They sold out already??” Then I thought, “No way they’re sold out. That would be the dumbest business move ever. It’s the number one album.” So I asked the manager who assures me the album is sold out. I ask him how many he ordered. This man tells me he, along with every manager in all Best Buys in and around the Atlanta metropolitan area, ordered 25 copies per store to ensure even distribution. Curious, I asked if it was due to the digital release of the album and he said no. I responded, “You do realize this is the number one album right now?” He didn’t know. I told him how that didn’t make sense. I know 25 people off the top of my head who want this album and I’m just one person. I confirmed his statements with two other Best Buys on opposite sides of town. Needless to say, all of them ordered 25 copies each and would not have any until a new shipment arrived (Thursday or Friday).
I was MAD!!!! I couldn’t help it. I KNEW I was about to sing this album all the way to school. I was looking forward to it. I’d told all my friends. I was hurt and let down. Something was wrong here. Target isn’t carrying this album at all. [Click Here for Details on that story] Best Buy orders 25 copies each. So that’s maybe 250 copies in Atlanta. There are approximately 5 million people here. First week digital sales of over 130k. Why would they order such a small number? There’s no way they thought 25 per store would be sufficient. Atlanta is the epitome of Frank’s demographic!! It’s mainly African American and with his Tumblr post, I’m sure Atlanta’s gay population (which is pretty vast) will support.
Is it a ploy? Corporate greed is a possibility. That’s the only thing that makes sense. Stock nowhere near the demand and tell customers to come back during the weekend – primary shopping days. That’s twice the same customer is in the store, doubling the chance of a purchase. I get it Best Buy.
Racism? Homophobia? Target was accused of homophobia. Of course they denied it and said they wouldn't carry the album due to the digital release. Religion? He is a member of OddFuture. They’ve stirred up a lot of controversy themselves. Seems like Best Buy ordered enough to dodge accusations of political and social injustices and possibly ulterior motives just to say they carried it.
Either way, it looks like their blackballing my boy Frank. Nothing else makes sense to me. Either way, PURCHASE the album. It’s pretty much perfect.
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