Jay Z

Illustration by Sean McCabe

The Brooklyn Boy is at it again, pushing the culture forward one chess move at a time.

Jay Z has reportedly partnered with electronics maker Samsung to market his 12th solo studio album, “Magna Carta Holy Grail.” The deal, worth between $20 and $30 million, was unveiled during game 5 of the 2013 NBA Finals. The setting, half-time. The visual, fly-on-the-wall access. The cast, star-studded, of course.

Samsung purchased 1 million copies of the album at $5 a pop. And, beginning June 24, the first million Galaxy S3, S4, and Note II users to download the exclusive Magna Carta app will receive the album free of charge on July 4th (72 hours before the official release date). While the announcement roused excitement among fans, Billboard Magazine will not be boarding the Roc Nation Express this time around.  The publication explained why it will not count these sales on its album chart in a letter from the editor on Friday:

“Retailers doing one-way deals is a fact of life in the music business. When Best Buy committed to and paid upfront for 600,000 copies of Guns N’ Roses’ “Chinese Democracy” in 2008, those albums didn’t count as sales — not until music fans actually bought them. Had Jay-Z and Samsung charged $3.49 — our minimum pricing threshold for a new release to count on our charts — for either the app or the album, the U.S. sales would have registered.”

Billboard’s decision prompted this defiant tweet from Mr. Carter:

But Forbes’ Zack O’Malley Greenburg sees the glass as half full for the rapper:

Jay-Z is essentially getting paid to leak his own album… The method of delivery may be unusual, but he’s assuring Magna Carta will be heard by hordes of listeners–and that he’ll be well-compensated for it. At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter whether or not this counts toward his chart totals.

While the album may not have reached official platinum status just yet, the Jigga Man’s Midas touch is still undeniable.


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  • Amanda Muhammad

    Innovative!!! :0

    • I agree, Amanda. Regardless of Billboard’s acceptance of this transaction, the money still changed hands. I’m interested to see if other artists will go for partnerships like this when releasing new material.