'Magna Carta Holy Grail' enjoyed a unique launch, but did it work?
It seems as though an artist can’t just put out an album any more – people are bored of buying 12-track albums for $15, so rappers like Jay-Z have to find new and innovative ways to get their records into headlines and peoples heads and, before they know it, onto their iTunes.
Jay Z tried something new with his latest record
On the face of it, Jay-Z’s partnership with Samsung – who snapped up a million copies of his latest album, Magna Carta Holy Grail – seemed like a stroke of genius. It bagged the rapper a guaranteed $5m from Samsung’s purchases, grabbed all the headlines as this was a totally new way to distribute music – users could download it via a special app – and, for Samsung, it got the attention of an iPhone hungry generation while simultaneously satisfying their existing customers.
Samsung aren’t divulging the actual amount of albums utilized by their smartphone and tablet owners, but it’s supposed to be very close to the 7-figure apex. The problems, though, run deeper than that. What was supposed to be an unprecedented, cutting edge way to promote and sell a new album turned into concerns about privacy, technical issues and rather embarrassing press for Jay-Z. Billboard wouldn’t count his Samsung sales towards their chart. This is probably something Hova was aware of, but it doesn’t stop the press reporting it, and it looks to the general public like he didn’t do his research.
Then there were the app issues – a fake one was released, containing a political message against Jay-Z’s best buddy, Barack Obama, and slow downloads, which frustrated users, prompting them to close and re-open the app, which simply lengthened the request queue for the servers to deal with.
Magna Carta Holy Grail's Artwork
Want more? Well, the amount of information required by the app stumped some concerned customers. Physical location information and data related to their phone calls as well as a social media connection was required sometimes to even look at lyrics, and whenever you did, your Twitter or Facebook told all your friends about it. Some people love that, but equally, some don’t.
So, with all the issues that plagued the launch of Magna Carta Holy Grail and the inevitable reputation-hit for both the rapper and the Korean mobile company, can we really still call their collaboration a piece of marketing genius? It’s likely that if/when Jay-Z puts out another record, he’ll try another ploy of some such, but we predict he’ll be steering clear of the cellular market.
Will he do another album?