Samsung gets The Holy Grail from Jay-Z – and at $25 million, it’s a real snip

The collaboration will annoy some fans, but it’s part of a global expansion picture

Fri, Jun 21, 2013, 00:00

It’s not quite David Bowie or My Bloody Valentine-style “my new album is out in 20 minutes”, but Jay-Z bought ad space in the US last Sunday to announce that his new album will be out in a mere two weeks (on July 4th). For a multi-million-selling artist of Jay-Z’s status and commercial penetration, this is a highly unusual move – the label would normally need at least three months to prep the promo/marketing teams and get them oiling the publicity wheels.

But Jay-Z’s new album is highly unusual in more than this respect. For a start – and despite not a single copy going on sale until July – it has already gone platinum and earned him a net profit of $5 million. Even David Blaine couldn’t pull that off.

Jay-Z’s modestly titled Magna Carta Holy Grail is the first fruit of his New World Order alliance with the giant multinational Samsung. Remarkably, for a music album, Magna Carta Holy Grail has already succeeded in putting the frighteners on (and causing financial damage) to Apple, Google and Microsoft. The term game-changer is an understatement when it comes to this album.

The back story here is that last week Samsung gave Jay-Z a cheque for $20 million, thus ensuring that he is the company’s new best friend. Samsung’s first move was to pre-buy one million copies of the album at a discount price of $5 each. So there’s another $5 million cheque direct into Jay-Z’s account. Those one million pre-sales are why the album has already gone platinum.

Samsung will give away those one million album downloads to their customers three days before the album goes to retail. I’d love to tell you which specific Samsung phones and tablets the album will be available on, but the company has yet to grease my palm with any of its shiny, state-of-the-art and undoubtedly competitively priced products, so the mention can wait.

Not only is Jay-Z embarrassingly talented as a musician, but he’s also one of the most intelligent figures at work in today’s music world. He will have realised that in the short term, this Samsung tie-in will be damaging, but in the medium to long term it will make him richer than God.

Short term, non-Samsung-using Jay-Z fans are crying “foul” and “sell-out”, but that backlash will dissipate. Then it’s back to the bigger financial picture for Samsung and Jay-Z.

For Samsung, the $25 million it has already paid the rapper is loose change down the back of the couch. Samsung has seen what getting a credible rap artist to front a product did for Beats headphones, and they’re savvy enough to realise that having a rapper with a bit of a bad- boy “gangsta” background doing the shill for their products is a total marketing no-brainer for the white, middle class market.

This is just part one of the Jay-Z/Samsung roll out. The company has already overtaken Apple in the smartphone sales market, now it is looking to knock iTunes off its perch. The two-step move here is the new Samsung music streaming service followed by a Samsung music store. Handily, Samsung is looking for a quickie divorce from Google – so that clears the way nicely.

The best $25 million Samsung ever spent? Yep, and they got Jay-Z cheap.

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