I’ve been participating in a lot of debate about the Samsung x Jay-Z partnership in promotion of Magna Carta Holy Grail, and it has been fascinating.
The main criticism seems to be:
- will this really sell Galaxy S4’s?
- is this really an exclusive pre-release?
- is Jay-Z making Samsung look stupid?
- is $5 million an absurd amount for this? (I have heard the overall total is in the range of $20 million, in addition to the $5 million for 1 million copies of MCHG)
I find this interesting, because this is an incredibly cool idea for both sides - Jay-Z gets to be the artist who says that iTunes, billboard charts, opening week sales, official platinum plaques, and everything else about the traditional industry is a joke. In addition to that, he makes a nice pile of money.
Samsung, for their part, gets a stronger association with music than any other Android phone manufacturer, which should be amusing, when Sony is a competitor.
Samsung isn’t trying to sell you S4’s directly, with this one. They’re challenging the unspoken rule that the only smartphone you can buy with a solid connection to music and the culture around it, is an iPhone.
Apple has iTunes, and no one has been able to really build an equivalent competitor. Samsung has done what they’ve been doing from the beginning; go overboard on a specific feature, so they can market the hell out of it.
Either way you look at it, Samsung is part of the music conversation, the hip hop conversation, in a way they never have been before.
And Jay-Z is proving that he means the #newrules hashtag.
It doesn’t matter if it leaked very quickly. It doesn’t matter if no one bought a Samsung just to get the album. What matters is, we’re all talking about it, and Samsung gets to be the step before piracy.
Usually the step before piracy is a release date, or the CD going into production. This time, it was at huge number of smartphone owners desperately refreshing, and more than a few people being mildly irritated that they didn’t have a Samsung device, possibly for the first time.
Sounds like good marketing to me.
(Image via Magna Carta Holy Grail)