Jay-Z has one of the highest-selling albums of 2013 and it hasn’t even been released yet. When details of Hov’s Samsung deal leaked, pundits questioned its implications for the music industry. Would Magna Carta Holy Grail‘s one million pre-sales be chart-eligible? And what would that mean for the industry? Billboard tackles both questions in their Mr. Carter cover story.
The day after his three-minute commercial announcing the imminent arrival of Magna Carta Holy Grail, Jay-Z jumped on Twitter – for the first time in years – and posed the question: “If 1 Million records gets SOLD and billboard doesnt report it, did it happen?” In a nutshell – no, those sales didn’t happen. At least as far as Billboard is concerned. But that doesn’t diminish the deal’s impact for the music industry.
This is the first time a huge release has been exclusively premiered by a brand – it’s the frequent Kanye West-collaborator‘s first solo album in four years – and even brings the importance of record labels into question. If Jay-Z can reach one million fans without a distributor, isn’t their function slightly redundant? Well, Magna Carta Holy Grail will be released by Def Jam on July 7 (three days after the album is available to Samsung customers), so the question then becomes – Do first-week sales matter?
Billboard looks at the situation from a number of different angles. If a record has longevity, then the impact of losing those initial sales with a brand exclusive is negligible. But the way consumers buy music has changed and albums tend to open big and then peter out – making that initial blow all important. The music bible raises Lady Gaga‘s Amazon deal to boost sales of Born This Way as an example. It’s a complicated issue and there’s no real answer. One thing is for sure. If Hov’s deal is a moneyspinner then it won’t be long until another act follows suit.
Should those one million pre-sales be chart eligible? What does all this mean for the way music is distributed? Share your opinion in the comments.