Jay-Z rocked the music world this week with the announcement of new album ‘Magna Carta Holy Grail’.
Hailing the arrival of “new rules”, the Roc Nation mogul underlined his point by confirming that the project will be launched in partnership with Samsung, who give 1 million copies of the LP away to users of Galaxy S III, Galaxy S 4, and Note II on July 4th by way of a specially created app (which will be available to download earlier on June 24th). Thereafter, the project will receieve a traditional release on July 7th.
Many would agree that the out-of-the-box campaign is, in many ways, as innovative as it perceives itself to be. Yet, for all the Hov hoopla, one question became a constant once the dust had settled: will the million units count towards Mr Carter’s first week sales on the Billboard 200?
Well, wonder no more because the answer awaits below, as too does a small preview of the project’s material…
As we envisioned, Billboard have confirmed that the 1 million “free” units will not count towards the LP’s total tally.
Billboard editor Bill Werde explains (while still praising the rapper’s ambition) that this is due to the fact that Samsung have ultimately covered the cost of the “free” units – buying them in bulk at a reported price point of $5 each. Sources claim this $5 million spend forms part of a bigger $20 million deal the technology firm has with the 43-year-old.
Viewed this way, Werde states that -given the way album totals are tallied at present – it’s virtually impossible to count units that were bought by a multi-national corporation in the same manner they would units bought by the general public. Yes, albums are still being “bought”. However, it’s the very different ways here that is at the center of discussion.
Werde, who says it was not easy turning down Jay-Z’s request to include the download sales, adds in his insightful open letter:
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.
And ultimately, that’s the rub: The ever-visionary Jay-Z pulled the nifty coup of getting paid as if he had a platinum album before one fan bought a single copy. (He may have done even better than that — artists generally get paid a royalty percentage of wholesale. If Jay keeps every penny of Samsung’s $5 purchase price, he’d be more than doubling the typical superstar rate.) But in the context of this promotion, nothing is actually for sale.
When Jay’s “Magna Carta Holy Grail” hits (traditional) retailers and fans have the chance to express their support and interest by buying it, we’ll obviously count those sales. I’ve been told that label sources expect first-week sales of the album to be in line with the 400,000-450,000 his recent albums have shifted. That will almost certainly give Jay his lucky 13th No. 1 on the Billboard 200.
A fascinating vision on Jay’s end, yet a plausible reason as to why it can’t wholly “be”.
Still, this clash between new rules and old bring to the surface fresh (and necessary) debate about what charts mean and how they should be tallied in an ever-changing music industry. As we’ve seen with the recent (and meaty) inclusion of streaming in the charting equation, there is a lot of shape-shifting taking place. Hence, we wouldn’t be surprised if the impact of Jay’s idea echoes into reality for artists in the future.
For now, though, sales counted or not, Jigga will no doubt be laughing all the way to the bank (and the top of the charts). More power to him.
Check out this new Samsung commercial for ‘Magna Carta’, featuring new material, below…