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Jay Z’s Partnership with HBO and Samsung and What It Means

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Jay Z has taken his last album Magna Carta Holy Grail and made some unique marketing decisions. His album was released exclusively to Samsung users via an app and his music video for Picasso Baby was aired on HBO. But are all these “exclusive releases” alienating some of Jay Z’s fans?

Jay Z is renowned for being both an innovator and businessman on top of his musical prowess, which is probably precisely why he chose to release Magna Carta Holy Grail early via Samsung. The deal Jay Z had with Samsung resulted in Samsung buying 1 million copies of his album at $5 each to be released for free via the app, meaning Jay Z had made $5 million before the album was even released. While this also may be the future for album releases, it still wasn’t without flaws. The app had several bugs and file sharing was still a possibility. The biggest complaint, however, was the information that the app requested users share, including GPS location and access to social media sites. With the NSA’s surveillance scandal taking over the airwaves, its no surprise that many people were hesitant about giving all this information out.

But the real question lies not in the success of the app or the artistic value of the music video, but in whether or not this is nothing more than a way to bring in more money. The deal with Samsung bypasses the record label and Jay Z already made a hefty earning on the pre-release alone. A pairing with HBO functions in a similar, but less effective way. Has Jay Z become less concerned with the music he makes, a criticism of many fellow artists, and more concerned about bringing in the dough? His new releases seem to suggest that just may be the case.

Mackenzie is an Alabama native attending NYU and studying Journalism and Dramatic Literature. She hopes to one day live in London and write for the BBC.