New Music / news / Technology

Since Jay-Z/Samsung…Lady Gaga To Release Album via Mobile App…Did #Samsung Profit or Not?


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Elite Daily — by Joseph Milord

The deal that saw Samsung Mobile purchase a million copies of the heavily anticipated “Magna Carta Holy Grail” album for $5 million was a big win for Jay-Z. That much is clear. The move ensured that Mr. Carter’s album would essentially go platinum before its official release and he would be given the spotlight in the midst of the NBA Finals, turning millions of people’s attention away from basketball at a time when the game’s best player was contending for a title.

On one end, success was undoubtedly attained. But for Samsung, the company that spent a total of $20 million on the marketing campaign centered around the release of Magna Carta Holy Grail and the app that allowed Galaxy phone users to access the tracks five days early on July 4, the question of profit has gone unanswered.

So, on the day that #MCHG makes it’s official debut in stores, it seems appropriate to ask: What, exactly, has Samsung gained besides a whole bunch of publicity? There’s one theory that seems to be doing the rounds.

“The more information users requested about the album, the more info they’d be asked to give up,” said Time.com writer Melissa Locker. “For example, if you wanted the lyrics to a song, the app posts on your behalf to Twitter or Facebook, alerting your friends and followers. The result has seen Twitter flooded with spam-like tweets, ‘I just unlocked a new lyric ‘Crown’ in the JAY Z Magna Carta app. See them first…’”

In exchange for their money, Samsung has seemingly been committed to going after your personal information. With great resolve and tenacity, too, Galaxy S III, Galaxy S4 and Galaxy Note II users have seen the Korean company push the limits, asking for users’ location, phone call logs and other sensitive information. In retrospect, this is a little cringe-worthy.

Don’t worry, though, said Jay-Z manager John McNeilly, it’s nothing.

“It’s much ado about nothing,” McNeilly told Wall Street Journal reporter John Jurgensen. “You have to provide a lot more information than was asked for in this app when you buy music with a credit card. There’s no secret room with people trying to mine through and find out which other artists you like or don’t like.”

But while much of the focus has been on Samsung’s NSA-like endeavors (Elite Daily covered the story, along with the New York Times, Journal, Time, and Gawker ), little attention has been paid to the fact that the company may be on the threshold of revolutionizing the phenomenon of the album release.

Jay-Z may be the first to do it this way, but hyping up one’s tracks with the use of mobile apps is sure to not be a one time thing. Lady Gaga has already said that her next album release will involve an app, while McNeilly also told Jurgensen, “the reason we did the deal with Samsung is that hand-held devices will be the key to music distribution in the future.”

If releasing albums through mobile apps becomes a trend, you could only expect Samsung to be at the forefront of the marketing campaigns that surround it or, at the very least, lead Apple in the potential race to get other artists on board, already with a head start from the Magna Carta sales.

With more hyped up, music-centric advertisements inevitably would come more chances for Samsung to step on Apple’s toes, a process which is apparently already in the works. According to Tech Crunch’s Catherine Shu, Samsung plans to build a new $300 million facility in San Jose that will act as its U.S. headquarters. In addition, the company’s expansion of their presence in Silicon Valley — i.e. Apple Country — also features a $100 million strategy and innovation center in Menlo Park, the home of Facebook, and a start-up incubator in Palo Alto near Stanford University.

Meanwhile, Forbes contributor Kelly Clay says that Samsung already owns a 38% share of the global smartphone space and that the tech giant could consider creating its own music store, like iTunes, as it tries to create a new revenue stream. And it’s all for one reason.

Samsung is on the come up. Whether it’s through helping startups grow or revamping the way artists release their newest works, the company is intent on trying to usurp Apple as the world’s gold standard in the tech world.

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