jay-z samsung billboard

Can Jay-Z Rewrite The Rules? Three Experts Weigh In!


Jay-Z locks in a deal that bestows upon him platinum status before his album, Magna Carta Holy Grail, officially drops on July 4th. Reaching a new level of independence, the rapper-turned-mogul no longer has to conform to the rules of the music industry thanks to his new deal with Samsung. The mobile monolith has purchased one million copies of MCHG and will distribute them to users of the Samsung Galaxy. Billboard, the charting and recording staple, has refused to accept these downloads, stating the million will not count towards their records. Still, albums were sold. And there in lies the dilemma. Who’s rules count most? The will of Jay-Z? Old guards such as Billboard? Of course the answer is more complicated, as the music industry is in a tremendous time of evolution.

AllHipHop handpicked three experts in music journalism, social media and technology and asked a few questions about new rules and the fairness of the Jay-Z/Samsung deal. And where do we go from here.

The Experts:

Lauren Coleman, owner of Punch Media Group, a digital media and entertainment company

Jerry Barrow, Senior Editor of TheUrbandaily and creator of Nodfactor

Mike Street, Sr. Digital Strategist / Facebook.com/HarlemNY

Is this Jay-Z/Samsung deal a new way of deriving sales – via sponsorships? Is it fair? Should they count towards over all sales? Remember Lady Gaga sold a lot of albums when she pushed them for a limited time at a .99 cent price point on Amazon.

Lauren Coleman: The Lady Gaga thing is different ’cause you still had to buy it. This, if I understand correctly, is a give-away and therefore not a sale, right?  Current definition of a sale is:  The exchange of a commodity for money.  This is a sale. The sale is to Samsung and not the people. Therefore, I’d definite as a corporate sale.  Also, this who thing kind of reminds me just a little bit of back in the day when they said labels used to buy their own records to influence chart positioning.  I am not certain if a major corporation pre-buying one’s album counts as a traditional “sale.”  This seems to be in a different category. And while I think we can and should develop new ways to sell and new business models, I think we can probably be more creative than this [Jay-Z/Samsung] approach, though I’m not necessarily knocking it. Just may seem like out-of-touch timing.  In an era where it’s even more about touching and engaging the individual, to do things en masse just seems like both an quick, easy and counter-intuitive approach.  It seems to me that you vote for the artist’s creativity with your dollars, if you just get it as a freebie, how do you know they really wanted it and liked it or not.  Just as an artist, I would really want to know, but if the artist is looking at his art, perhaps, purely from a commercial endeavor, then I think – sadly – that wouldn’t matter.

Jerry Barrow: Personally, I don’t think Jay-Z should care whether Billboard counts the sales or not. The people will get the music and he will be compensated for it. Isn’t that what any artist wants? Eliminate the middle man. No iTunes to cater to. No Walmart. Everyone has music on their phones so why not go directly to them? What happens if it doesn’t “debut at #1”? Maybe one streak will end (Jay holds the record with 12 consecutive #1s) but who does that still matter to? His marketing team? They’ve already proved that they are several steps ahead of the game with this Samsung move. I’d sleep comfortably knowing that I’m $5 Million richer and my fans get to hear my creation.

Mike Street: Physical media is dead! Much like when the VHS [tapes] died when DVD’s come into existence going to the store and buying a CD will soon become an obsolete activity. I personally think it’s ground breaking and a step in the right direction for Jay-Z and Samsung and trying to save the music industry which is still living in the stone age. It’s great for marketing, great PR, and I think other music companies will follow in their footsteps. Those that are mad right now are upset because they didn’t think of this idea first and bring it to market.

The industry has changed. Artist are now packaging their new albums into App experiences like Bjork did with her release of Biophilia [in 2011]. So it’s going to have to be much more than just the music. Fans are looking for full on experiences. And having the new Jay-Z album fully delivered on a handset is a step forward.

[ALSO READ: JayZ Planning “Surprise” Concert In Times Square]

What do you think of Jay-Z’s evolution an approach to music and sales. Is he a trail blazer? Is he cheating? Is this an example of the wily elder statesman outsmarting the young bucks?

Mike Street: It’s not cheating at all. Look at the success of Spotify, Pandoa, Rdio, and new the new Apple streaming service. Album sales are going to take an even bigger hit now that everything is about streaming. I’m paying $9 a month for Spotify and can listen to just about whatever I want. I can make playlist with friends. These new apps make music a full on social experience. Artist are releasing full albums on YouTube now and Billboard is measuring against activity on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Spotify. So I don’t see what’s so different. The method of delivery of music has changed so it should fully count. #PlatinumOnDayOne

Jerry Barrow: No one faults an artist when they cash a check from a corporate sponsor to use their music in a movie, a TV show a commercial and so on. So now they’re paying to put his music on their device. It’s great to me. If listeners are more reluctant – or capable given the economy – to pay for music why not let a corporation foot the bill?  He definitely isn’t cheating. He built his name up to a point where a company is willing to pay upfront for his music. Not every artist has or can build the goodwill to accomplish that.

Lauren Coleman: First of all, one cannot help but respect Jay-Z’s business acumen, but I am not certain – similar to the previous Live Nation deal and Live Nation still now in the red, no? – if the approach where a major company gives an established artist very significant upfront deals creates an admirable overall “evolution.”  It certainly creates greater earnings for him as an artist, but few artists will be able to replicate it nor is it something truly innovative on a tech/digital level that would serve as a new form of business model for the entire industry (i.e. like a distribution platform such as iTunes, creation of Pandora, etc). We have yet to see the true new business models, and this will come more from a collaboration of new artists with new developers who think in new ways because they are in a completely different area of career experience.

[ALSO READ: Hip-Hop Rumors: Are Jay-Z And Beyonce Working On A Duet Album?]

What, if any, should Billboard and the RIAA do to address these emerging ways of creating sales? The game has been notoriously slow to adopt new technology and advances in the music. There was Napster, but now on Spotify you can play an album continuously without buying it – but you kinda do as a part of the service. What say you?

Jerry Barrow: To paraphrase Jay-Z’s tweet, “If people stop paying for music, does a chart rating system still matter?” Billboards business is measuring the consumption of music but the way people consume music is changing. They are changing a bit with allowing Youtube plays to count but may find themselves going the way of Tower Records and HMV if they aren’t careful.

Lauren Coleman: I just had this discussion the other day with a major copyright person here in Washington, DC. Until organizations such as that focus on meeting new consumer distribution demands and think of new approaches, rather than seeing themselves primarily as policing institutions, they will probably continue to be behind-the-curve and always work to play catch up.  This could have easily been foreseen.  Why wait.  That’s why it’s great to have futurists and analysts always part of their mix!  I think that in order to remain relevant, chart categories will have to be expanded (not that consumers really care about chart positions.  This is for people in other industries who have to use positions for validation since they are not familiar with the industry itself).  What may end up happening is a innovative hybrid of new or existing digital distribution platform that simultaneously offers a killer rating system that mashes-up everything from Instagram likes, amount of time spent listening, and more but also has direct input on this from fans that is updated by the millisecond via algorithms.   There have a been a few weak attempts at this. The one who gets it right, will rule.

Mike Street: Billboard and RIAA should consistently monitory the changing landscape and adapt accordingly. “Harlem Shake” hit the charts because everyone was making videos with the song. Billboard should be a monitoring service that can track and measure the pulse of what music consumers are listening to across any device, service, or platform.  I personally think it’s un-just for Billboard to deny Jay-Z’s platinum status. If not for the meme created leading to the success of the “Harlem Shake” song sales Billboard have not included video steams as a part of their monitoring metrics. So I think that Jay-Z’s partnership should fully count.

Now, Jay-Z has pushed this notion of “new rules” since announcing the deal with Samsung, the artists and people have largely decided how things go. Napster/Audio Galaxy/Limewire were hot. Then you have Hulkshare and Datpiff and whatever, but those were not ways that that artists were paid directly. Is this what’s next?

Mike Street: The music industry has to evolve. It has been the one industry that was really unable to keep up with the light speed of technology. So now is the time for artist to take chances and do something different. And this won’t be the last time that we see something like this done. There are also a slew of music startups on the rise that will continue to disrupt the music industry business model. If I where a big label I’d be buying up SoundCloud in a heart beat.

Final thoughts on the here and now as the future. Is Jay a pioneer now? Is resistance futile and should Billboard reconsider?

Lauren Coleman: I think the real question is not whether Billboard is right or wrong, but defining what the word sale means in an era where the individual rules and mindset is changing and what place corporations have in that sale.  This is not the first time a corporation has bought a certain product “in bulk,” so to speak. It can be considered akin to a “premium/gift with purchase.”  It seems to have counted toward totals in the past.  Is that still appropriate now?  What will push-back be, if any, directly from individuals on this new method. Is is truly a “sale” if you own the device already and the item is simply sitting there? Should the rules be that the give-away has to be listened to a certain number of times tracked via technology in order to count as a “sale” since it leapfrogs over the traditional method?  But most importantly, does it cheapen the view of music if it’s simply an add-on?  Will this ultimately drive Samsung devices? That’s a question I’m interested in, particularly since hip-hop fans are more likely to own several smartphones.  What is Samsung’s social responsibility to give-back when they set up something like this to entice sales (since it’s significantly more expensive to purchase a device to get a free album) than to simply download the album? Also, since Jay has the ability to negotiate these types of deals, is there ever any thought to include that Samsung has to also invest in a certain number of Black start-ups so that the wealth is spread? These deeper questions should be what also drives our conversation because if the whole is not considered, particularly given the widening economic wealth gap in our country, there won’t be enough side loot to dabble in these things to keep the corporations, artists, Billboard, etc going.  Feel me?

Jerry Barrow: I’m a strong advocate of supporting an artist by purchasing their music. I’m in a position where I can get most music sent to me but I like to vote with my dollar if I believe in a project.  I think fans of Jay-Z will still buy the album beyond the million given to Samsung users…if the music is good. What people are missing in all this is the music has to back it up. That’s all that matters in the end. Part of me wonders if Jay-Z’s approach to making this album was different knowing that he wouldn’t have to pander to the traditional means to get the album heard and sold. Imagine how freeing that must be to step in the booth and know that no matter what I put out, this will be heard and I can stash some more chips in my daughter’s college fund at the same time.

Mike Street: Billboard should reconsider as things have changed. If they could add in the addition of YouTube streams for “Harlem Shake” then they surely can allow platinum status for Magna Carta Holy Grail.

[Editor’s Note: Jay-Z’s Magna Carta Holy Grail is expected to debut at number 1 on the Billboard Chart for the 13th time in a row, a record he set by besting previous record set by the Beatles.]

  • Guest

    I don’t see what the problem is here? I don’t see what the debate is. What they’re really trying to do is measure the demand for his brand. And JayZ just made them impotent that end. And I encourage him for a multitude of reasons: 1. The media has been waiting for the day to officially state that he’s “too old” and he’s “falling off”. This negates their ability to do so. 2. He’s proving mature hiphop artists can still remain popular, relevant and at the top of their game. He’s actually pushing the envelope for the genre with the business moves he’s making. I have to respect that.

    • Guest

      You respect a backdoor way to “success” too? If a boxer throws salt in his opponents eyes and wins the title does that make him a legit winner? No. That’s the issue.

      Jay isn’t earning those 1 million sales through transaction with his customers. He made a deal, which to me, compares with one copping a plea.

      This deal doesn’t negates ones ability to state he’s “too old” and “falling off” because his listeners have to be the judge of that. Making this deal behind closed doors doesn’t prove he’s “still at the top of his game” and that he’s “relevant.” It just proves he’s a good business man. Or that any company will do anything to have a partnership with Jay.

      This deal gives one the ability to say he’s buying his way to the top because in retrospect, that’s exactly what he’s doing. No one respects the lady who sleeps with her superiors to get ahead in her career.

      • plsDontreply

        But that slut still gets ahead…

      • InTheNightKitchen

        This is a double edged sword. I understand and get exactly what you’re saying. But in this music industry climate, it’s getting harder to sell music whether it’s good or not. We’ve had some glimmers of hope here and there. So for him to make a deal that may or may not count his album as platinum plus make a few million before it’s release to the general public is ill.

        Then on the other hand, you have Eminem when he drops, he’ll sell 6-8 million records. So what is an artist like Jay who sells consistently 2million records supposed to do but create new ways to win whether they seem backhanded or not. The game is somewhat already fixed/bias.

      • Guest

        You’re right. With the various ways of acquiring someones project without actually paying for it makes selling records more difficult. But like you said, Eminem drops and goes platinum almost immediately. That shows the support of his fans and the quality of his music.

        So if Jay is going to claim a throne, then he should earn it. No one is looking for Jay like that at the moment and he knows that. This album release is random as hell, he has no singles out, and the release is too soon (even though he delayed it). Only someone like Kanye can pull that kind of stunt and still see some bit of success. Jay can’t because he lost some touch with the music world while taking on these other business ventures. He knows that and took action to save his own ass.

        I was going to say everyone else in the game is playing the right way, but I can’t even say that. Who knows how many artists buy their own records in bulk. The only difference is Jay is doing it through another entity and made it public.

        To each its own though. My pockets/account doesn’t benefit either way so whatever. Just my 2 cents.

      • main0

        your perspective is from a non jay fan which puts a negative spin on your argument which is cool cause its your opinion. However stating there aren’t ppl looking for him iwouldnt necessarily say that.. If your phone company gave you a free album of an artist you don’t like most likely you won’t download the app to get it, even if its free.. I believe jay fans or people who was going to buy or bootleg the album will download the app. People are thinking it just shows up on the phone one day when it’s not the case… From your arguments your basically saying people buy albums because of the singles or maybe the bootleg and that’s the showing real support.. Your argument leaves out the fans who gets a chance to get the album for free that they would have either bootlegged or purchased and the people who has samsungs phones who don’t like or don’t know jay and wouldn’t waste the time to download the app

      • Guest


        If Curren$y did this I would say the same thing. It’s a cheap move musically.

        Secondly, no, people aren’t looking for Jay like that. Yes, you do have fans who are awaiting, but no, the masses aren’t hyped about this like they were with Kanyes’ project. “Watch The Throne” wouldn’t have done as well if it wasn’t a collaborative project with West.

        That’s not to say Jay project still won’t do numbers because I’m sure his team is buying in bulk, but most people aren’t walking around thinking, “When’s Jay putting out another album?”

        Thirdly, I’m saying he doesn’t have anything out to make us want to purchase the album. What single is out to make a judgement on the possible quality of his upcoming album? There is none. So why run out to buy something blindly? Because it’s Jay that means we’re supposed to just run out and buy it? No. That’s why artists release singles. It’s a sample of the album. Most consumers don’t purchase an album because of a single, but because of the potential of the album based on the single(s). No single, no potential drawn.

        My argument left out “the fans who gets a chance to get the album for free” because it doesn’t matter for the issue I was covering which was the deal. Doesn’t matter who receives the album for free. Doesn’t matter who pays for the album. The point was to acknowledge that the deal was a cheap move.

      • andone

        well fv(k!n said bruh… SALUTE!

      • main0

        Like I said you personally is not looking for a jay album and you personally have to listen to a single to feel the quality of an album.. From the perspective of a “fan” you will purchase an album cause its one of your fav artist.. Like with Kanye, no singles fans still supported his album.. Also, a single will never tell the tale of an album so it’s usually useless in deciding to purchase an album.. I didn’t like j cole single but I still purchased the album because I am a “fan” of his just my opinion.. The fans that will purchase the album will attempt to get the album for free so those millions sales should show the interest in the artist that was my only argument..

      • Guest


    • iDontCare

      “Applause” thats dead on the money, no pun intended… If your a Jay fan, of his music or his business decisions this is new but no surprise, he’s out here gettin it in every sense of the word… “You dont know” lol

  • Reblogged this on City Press.

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  • thepractitionerz

    This maybe more complicated then it looks . No body but jay and samsungs knows the terms of the contracts , and knows if samsung is recuperating that cd money by adding 15 or 30 $ to the price of the phone that will receive the jay album.
    and if you want to be technical : Samsung is a corporate so it is a a person in the eyes of the law . so if a samsung buys the album it will be a person buying the album and if i bought the jay album for a million i should have the right to distribute it to who ever i want . but as a (Buisness person) i can decide to give it away to the first million of people who buy my new phone.
    its just good business sense which is a mark of capitalism at its best , and the music business is a BUSINESS. so if the album is that good its going to make at least a million more or at least 500. if not Jay is still making his money .. one thing is for sure it will be at least one million and 1 unit sold with my purchase.

    • iDontCare

      Sean Carter is no fool, this is a chess game, you win some and loose some but with experience of 40+ yrs with the majority of them hustling in the worlds most busy city business wise, i put my money on Sean for the Win he’s a champion…

  • atlantahiphopshop

    I mean, what does this matter?

    • dexter

      well tbh honest from the beginning man as looked to a God(hence “HOV”)to define who they are. To look inward would be catastrophic for many. Not that the man dont have talent or is not a good business person but he is wise in manipulating the low self image of many. While leaving a trail of “I dont need u anymore casualties in his wake. Well done Sean I mean Jay I mean “HOV”…but I def like his relentlessness. Thats def a good look!

  • atlantahiphopshop

    Wow, plus he got that Geico commercial doing well. Hump daaaay!!!!

    • dexter

      yo u stupid!!!!!!!!!!!!!! lmbo!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • iDontCare

    i have no opinion neither a statement aside from this quote “Hovies back!”…#BossShit

  • Reblogged this on Ashanti's_view and commented:
    Jay Z is doing it big as usual. Hustle never stops! I salute him.

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  • andone

    repost from 9 days ago:

    i cant give props to an album going plat that the “fans’ didnt go out and support… in order for that to be valid it cant involve any mass purchases(including labels themselves) and rather be reflected thru albums bought by individuals or units shipped… its jus not legit and in fact almost defeats the purpose of RIAA certification altogether…

    imo i see this as somewat of a coup out on jays part honestly… even tho this was the right move to make, im sure he did so with keeping in mind that music isnt selling like when he first got on…

    i think its likely hov “may” have made this deal wit the intention of saving face, knowing that he will still look good while doing it in case the real #’s arent up to par wit the hype…

    w/e the case its deff another notch under his belt but im not sure if it qualifies him to join the 1mill+ first wk club tho???

    • InTheNightKitchen

      Doesn’t Youtube hits defeat RIAA certification as well?

      • Eli Pinilla

        Youtube hits dont equal sales…just shows traffic

    • I feel you, but he has nothing to prove these days as far as record sales, he been multi-platinum most of his career. No one moves a milli in the first week anymore, look at the sales difference even in Wayne’s Carter 3 and everything he’s put out since…Huge declines, it’s expected no matter who you are. Hell yeah its a notch under his belt and yet again he’s teaching rappers how to make big money off their albums before they even touch tour money!!! #Salute

    • $18916246

      Didn’t I tell ya……I’m just saying…Billboards mad because he’s basically exposing whats already being done through record label investors….call it wrong…It’s business as usual. Billboard does not want to see JAY-Z for anymore than an entertainer. JAY-Z in their eyes should not be able to make such moves and still claim to be an artist. These type moves made by the artist could mean the end of such institutions like Billboard. Who wins the music award nods? Whomever sells the most records. Industry investors place their money on a sure bet. Distribution was all the traditional major labels had and that’s gone. NEW RULES! nah…same shit different way.

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  • Mike Thompson

    All technicalities aside if you are in Jay’s mindset you want to land your career some where safe. Bottom line is Jay has been consistently outdone by Kanye’s sales since Kanye became the top dog. Jay knows that his relevance is at stake and so a PR move regarding album sales creates a discussion. In reality he has never sold 1 million in a week and honestly the demand for a Jay-z record is mostly his marketing. His demographic is aging and the new kids just boo’d Wu-Tang at Summer Jam, do the math.. its not his game anymore but he wants to ensure he doesn’t look like Michael Jordan when he goes back out past his prime. Just keepin it 100%. Me personally, i’d want Jay to return to his old music but as Jay said people like his older fans that remembered his classic albums “are stuck on stupid” and we ought to “buy his old albums”. But honestly the man hasn’t made anything in comparison to his old albums especially commercial success that could match Vol 2. I just find it weird he thinks that his new stuff is hot in comparison. But I dont think he believes it.. hence his total reliance on Kanye to keep Roc-a-Fella alive. Jay should just go to left field do some songs with Az, Beanie Sigel and Scarface and just mix up his past present and future throughout this work. He could finally bridge his listeners and trust me the ol’ heads will remind the new generation about the Jay we remember.

    • Raheem Classick

      You said > Bottom line is Jay has been consistently outdone by Kanye’s sales since Kanye became the top dog / Just A little research > THE COLLEGE DROPOUT 2004 2x Plat VS.THE BLACK ALBUM 2003-2005 3x Plat LATE REGISTRATION 2005-2006 3x Plat VS.KINGDOM COME 2005-2006 2x GRADUATION 2007 2x Plat VS.AMERICAN GANGSTER 2007 1x Plat M.B.D.T.F. 2010-2011 1x Plat VS.BLUEPRINT 3 2009-2010 1x Plat, Since Kanye came on the scene, He only sold 1 Million more albums then Jay-Z, I call that on even till.

      • Mike Thompson

        Call it even.. but I doubt Jay himself would disagree with the concept that his audience has grown up his draw has steadily declined amongst listeners and he hasn’t shown growth to snag the young generation. It’s obvious his strategy thus far has been keep the people Kanye cosigns near him. Keep Kanye near him. Only thing I applaud Jay for doing is risking it all by going at Wayne again.. he gets points for that. But that I minus points because when Wayne spit at him he was unusually silent and only worked up nerve to spit back at Wayne (after declaring peace) when he did Watch the Thrown..with Kanye. So its like now its all more publicity for him.. its a cool move but playin his older fans that’ll defend him against the younger fans that’ll side wit Wayne is a little late. I dunno.. maybe im 100 percent wrong on Jay but as a person that really likes and follows music.. I see a paper Champ trying to play his cards like hes the best when his relevance has been questionable since…i’d definitely say Kingdom Come.. after that album left people confused and disappointed.. one could only wonder what Jay would do.. and he’s managed to make a career out of saying how good we should believe he is.. when actually.. musically he hasn’t made a track with any real staying power.. its kind of crazy if you look at it without a bias for a second.. I like Jay like I love the Lox. I think Styles P is one of the best lyricist ever and when they drop new music I rock it.. but I wont go pretend they newest music is matching some of their older work im supportive but I’d admit Meek Millz is more poppin than Styles as far as popularity and sales.

  • jayz disrespects the lord by naming his album that while selling out to a large foreign corperration on the 4th of freaking july… what a tool

    • Opposite Of Everyone

      what Lord does he disrespect? An imaginary one ?

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  • Live Well

    This experiment only works for an artist like Jay Z or Beyonce.

  • AK

    i just hope he has better beats then what we heard on the commercial i cant stand timbos or swizz played out beats anymore

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  • NachoS

    So Selling 1 Million Copies at $5 each is equal to selling 1 Million that normally will cost us consumers $11.99+??? Is Jay still Platinum??? Also, Didn’t he sign a deal with Samsung for 20 Mil? is any of that on top of the $5 million for the album??? Think about it…

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