News of Jay-Z’s new LP, Magna Carta Holy Grail, hit the wire last night and with the announcement came the revelation from the Wall Street Journal that Samsung paid $5 a pop for 1 million copies of the album to give away 3 days early to Samsung Galaxy smartphone users. This is of course a huge win for Jay, as the album has already brought in at least $5 million in revenue and it hasn’t even gone on sale yet.
Corporate sponsorship of albums is not a new concept, but I don’t believe it’s ever been done on this scale. The Jay x Samsung rollout is essentially the Green Label Sound model on steroids. Samsung wins through their mere association with the biggest Rapper in the world and Jay pockets a nice check plus enjoys a subsidized global marketing push. The only people who lose here are of course us iPhone users, but I’m guessing we’ll all have a copy of Magna Carta within an hour of it hitting the Samsung App. And if the album has already turned a profit, I’m thinking neither Jay nor the label will even care.
The unique elements of this campaign have of course prompted several questions about how this whole thing is going to work. Will the 1 million albums Samsung purchased count towards the LP’s Billboard placement? (I don’t see why they wouldn’t). Does this mean Jay will be the first artist ever to go platinum prior to their album release date? (I think it might).