Archives for the month of: June, 2013

With Samsung, Jay-Z’s business continues to boom

Another sign of how musicians are finding new ways to push, sell and promote their music, Jay-Z partnered with Samsung for his new album, “Magna Carta Holy Grail”.  Jay-Z, a multiplatinum performer who famously rapped “I’m not a businessman, I’m a business, man”, continues to leverage his enduring popularity into a successful brand.

On July 4, just three days before the album’s official release date, Jay-Z will give his new album to 1 million users of Galaxy mobile phones.  During the three-minute commercial in the NBA Finals, the 43-year-old broke the news about his twelfth album

Details about the Samsung-Jay-Z deal, announced Sunday, weren’t made public as both parties did not allow interviews.

While music industry is at a time when album sales are low and the digital market has taken the lead in the music industry, Jay-Z’s partnership is just another way of artists’ promotions.

President of the National Association of Recording Merchandisers (NARM) Jim Donio said top level acts like Jay-Z and Taylor Swift have the power to launch new albums in spectacular ways with various partners.

“For an artist whose album release is an event in itself … they carry with them a much wider profile in the marketplace that they speak to, so their audience and all the things that they do affords these unique opportunities,” he said.

Taylor Swift, one of the top sellers in music, had her second platinum-debut week with “Red” last year. Her partnerships for the album included Target, Walgreens and Papa John’s (you could order a pizza and a Swift album at the same time).

“Even if you didn’t purchase the CD, her face was still on the pizza box,” Donio said.

Jay-Z’s latest partnership is one of his many business deals. Roc Nation agency, the one who manage Jay-Z’s agency as well as Rihanna, Shakira and other musicians, recently expanded into the sports world, and he now is helping the careers of New York Yankee Robinson Cano, New York Jets rookie Geno Smith and others.  Jay-Z has launched fashion lines, has a string of 40/40 nightclubs, was also the president of Def Jam and owned part of 1 percent of the Brooklyn Nets.

Samsung likely partnered with him on his new album because Jay-Z is still a consistent hit maker and a superstar who transcends music.  Samsung has chipped away at Apple’s share of the mobile market with its Galaxy phones, and companies are depending more on music to attract new customers.

Will the 1 million downloads count toward first-week sales of the album, giving it elite status of debuting with platinum sales, an accomplishment few artists have achieved? That was one of the many questions about the Samsung deal still unanswered.  Billboard tracks album sales and chart information for the industry.  They did not return emails seeking comment.  Samsung apparently bought the albums though it’s uncertain what the price-point was.

Monday, Jay-Z made it clear what he felt the trade publication should do.

“If 1 Million records get SOLD and billboard doesn’t report it, did it happen? Ha,” Jay-Z tweeted, adding: “Platinum!!!”

Donio said he thinks more deals like Samsung-Jay-Z are on the horizon.

“The record labels that are putting out the music and partnering with a variety of types of commerce outlets are going to look at just anything and everything that may work with that particular artist and that particular album release,” he said.

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Google Trialing Music Playback in Search?

It appears that Google might be experimenting with some form of music playback in search results when using its Chrome browser.  In a number of incidents a song or lyrics has been searched for and after a short delay the responding audio file plays in the background.  When it does so there are no player controls visible nor any other indication that the music is playing, and stopping the music playing sometimes requires not just closing the browser window but exiting Chrome entirely.  This appears to be a very early and limited trial – if indeed that is what this is – as it only occurs on a handful of songs and generally cannot be replicated on the same song by different people nor on different devices.

It is an interesting concept but not without its problems, not least of which is that currently music plays regardless of whether audio is being created by other browser windows.  The rights situation will be interesting too, though one imagines that if this ever gets rolled out it will utilize 30/60 second previews rather than full tracks.

Search has always been the part of Google’s business that the music industry has most wanted Google to do something with, given that it is the most common starting point for illegal downloads. Whether this is what the labels had in mind is another matter….

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