The Washington Post

Jay-Z, Samsung want to give you a free album

FILE - In this Sept. 1, 2012 file photo, Jay-Z performs at the "Made In America" music festival in Philadelphia. (Charles Sykes/CHARLES SYKES/INVISION/AP)

Jay-Z and Samsung have teamed up for a major giveaway, passing out free copies of the artist’s forthcoming album, “Magna Carta Holy Grail” to certain Samsung smartphone owners. Getting your hands on the album is a fairly easy process, if you have the right phone.

Those who own one of three Samsung Galaxy models — the Galaxy S III, the Galaxy S 4 and the Galaxy Note II — are eligible to download a customized mobile app on June 24 for free from Google’s Play store. The app then gives its users the shot to be one of the first million users, worldwide, to download the album on July 4 at 12:01 ET, 72 hours before it goes on sale to the general public.

And the app itself, according to an official Web site for the album, isn’t merely a placeholder for entering the contest. It’s supposed to provide an “unprecedented inside look into the album personal stories and inspiration,” which presumable alludes to some sort of behind-the-scenes information on Jay-Z’s creative process. (But let’s face it: if you’re downloading the app, it’s probably for the chance at free music.)

The promotion was first revealed during a three-minute spot that aired during the NBA Finals, prompting plenty of Twitter chatter about whether the partnership made Jay-Z a brilliant marketer or a total sell-out.

As the Atlantic’s Connor Simpson pointed out, this is not the first time Jay-Z has incorporated some smartphone promotion into album promotion. After releasing “The Black Album” in 2003, he teamed up with Nokia on a version of its 3300 Music Phone called The Black Phone sold exclusively, Billboard reported at the time, with then-popular retail outlets Sam Goody and Media Play.

This time around, however, the promotion is causing a bit of controversy.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Samsung paid $5 million for the opportunity to release the album to its customers. But, the report said, it’s not yet clear how those million sales will figure toward the album’s sales status, i.e. if “Magna Carta Holy Grail” has already gone platinum.

Regardless of what the deal may do for Jay-Z’s reputation, it seems to be a pretty good deal for Samsung. It’s a good selling point on two fronts: offering customers access to new music and burnishing its reputation as a cool firm.

It also certainly doesn’t hurt as Apple pumps up the features for its Music app to include a radio service connected to iTunes.

If you’re interested in getting the app, you shouldn’t let the grass grow under your feet. It’s hard to say how many people will actually be entering the giveaway contest. But given that the Samsung Galaxy S 4 alone sold approximately 10 million units in its first month, chances are that more than a million folks will at least download the app.

Related stories:

Sales of older iPhones, iPads banned as agency says Apple infringed Samsung patent

Samsung partners with Best Buy for mini-stores

Apple’s iTunes Radio: a play for streaming music

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Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.



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