A couple of weeks back, I wrote about the partnership between Jay-Z and Samsung. Where Jay-z’s new album will be available for a free download on July 4, 12:01 a.m. EST, to the first one million Samsung Galaxy S III, Samsung Galaxy S4, and Samsung Galaxy Note II users. Samsung users would get a digital download for free of Jay-z’s new album “Magna Carta Holy Grail.” The deal created a large amount of industry and media buzz. Normally, any Jay-Z album creates an enormous amount of anticipation and buzz, prior to its release. Jay-Z’s last solo studio album, 2009’s “The Blueprint 3,” opened at No. 1 with 476,000 sold in its first week. He returned to the top of the Billboard Charts in 2011 with “Watch The Throne,” his collaborative album with Kanye West.” It opened with 436,000 units sold. All of Jay-z’s solo albums released since 1999 have debuted with more than 400,000 units sold in its first week. Excluding the Samsung free downloads; “Magna Carta Holy Grail” is projected to sell between 450,000 to 500,000 copies by the end of its first official week out.
I am a big believer in thinking outside the box, taking risks, and trying new things in the arts and entertainment world. I thought I would write a follow up, and see how things went for this groundbreaking venture. It is worth it to note that Samsung purchased the 1 Million copies of Jay-Z’s album for $5 million and funded the app to promote its Galaxy brand of mobile devices and smartphones.
Aside from the fact that Jay-Z and Samsung have tried a promotion that might greatly benefit both parties, and recording artists all over the globe are brainstorming on how they can do a similar deal, there have been a few reported issues. One of the initial reports states a major concern users are faced based on their privacy. Although over 500,000 users have downloaded it since its launch date, June 24th (the app is supposed to give the album to 1 million users on July 4th, a week prior to its release date), many users have spoken up about their dissatisfaction with Samsung’s reported attempts at invading their users privacy. One of the more publicized complaints is from high profile rap artists like Killer Mike, who was originally part of the “Dungeon Family,” the crew that Grammy Winning rappers “Outkast” are part of.
Michael Render, aka Killer Mike, took to Twitter on Tuesday (which coincidentally is also the US release date of “Magna Carta”) and tweeted a screenshot of what he was encountering when he was trying to download the app. Killer Mike’s screenshot shows that the “Magna Carta Holy Grail” app wanted permission to access quite a bit of important and personal information from his phone. It wanted permission to access his phones storage settings, precisely to modify or delete contents of his USB storage. It wanted access to system tools, like gaining permission to prevent the phone from sleeping. The app also attempted to gain his location by trying to access his approximate network location, precisely GPS location. It wanted permission to retrieve info and gain access to any running apps he might have running concurrently as the “Magna Carta” app. As well full network communication, and being able to read “phone status and identity,” among many other things that most people would not want to allow outsiders access to. Much like Killer Mike’s unique personality, he took to twitter and tweeted along with the picture of the screenshot, “Naw I’m cool.”
Many of you might be thinking, well that’s lame…typical big business; there is always a catch to something good. But we all know it is not unusual for apps to request various information in your smartphones, in order for them to function properly. Google Maps requires your location, and will request precise GPS data in order to give you accurate directions to wherever you wish to go. Keeping ones phone from going to sleep is very common as well. This is usually used when people are streaming music from their phone and do not want their music to stop playing just because they haven’t touched the screen in ten minutes or so. When any app is updated, the app will usually need to alter how much storage it is using up in your phone.
Samsung hasn’t commented on why the “Magna Carta” App requires all this access, but with the recent National Security Agency’s “Prism Surveillance” scandal, it is understandable why people might be skeptical and even reject the free album. According to this article in Billboard.biz, Killer Mike “is essentially saying his privacy is worth more than the $10-$15 price of the album – no matter how cool the experience.”
Data collection is extremely important for any business in any industry. Currently in the digital music industry, it is becoming one of the highest priorities for companies to accumulate date. It helps artists, managers, and companies to learn as much as they can about their fans and their potential client base. The tough part that everyone is being faced with is how to balance the respect for your privacy and their need to accumulate data. It is a very fine line. One of the main reasons it is such a fine line, is because the line keeps “shifting beneath everyone’s feet.” You never know where the line actually is! The reason the line keeps shifting is because of the publics’ perception of what is acceptable and what is not. The publics perception varies based on politics, currents events, and each demographic base. For one, according to the Pew Survey, the teen demographic is less concerned with the info they share on social networks and the apps they purchase, but their parents are not! Some specialists in this arena feel that people will eventually become more and more protective of their information, and less likely to share anything. According to Sir Martin Sorrell of WPP which is the world’s largest internet marketing communications group, as quoted in this article from Campaign magazine, he said consumers “are going to get more concerned, and Prism probably makes them more concerned. I’m more concerned.”
The fallout has been minimal so far. People like Killer Mike who had reservations in downloading the Jay-Z app have not affected it from flying out of places like the Google Play App store. The Jay-Z app had been downloaded over ½ a million times by this past Monday, July 8th. Reviews from the app have been very favorable. Out of 8,600 reviews, the app received an average of over 4.1 stars out of 5 stars. Majority of the complaints of the app were based on some technical issues. One of the technical issues is being its inability to load. Even Jay-Z has voiced some complaints about the app. In an interview broadcasted on Power 105.1 in New York, Jay-Z publicly said the experience fans were having with the app was “not cool,” “disheartening” after fans were unable to access the album right away. But Jay made a conscious effort to NOT blame Samsung for any of this. He blamed it on the high demand for the album. “It was 20 million hits for the app and it broke,” he said. “No one is expecting it, there’s no way in the world for you to calculate 20 million hits. It’s not even a number you can fathom. You cannot prepare a service for that.” Jay Z accepts that since he is one of the first major recording artists to test out this new app distribution model, that he would run into some obstacles and it would have its drawbacks and technical issues. Jay-Z believes that his trailblazing of this new model will ensure other artists do it right in the future, avoiding the same issues he and Samsung have encountered. He said, “For me, that’s not cool. That’s a loss. That has to get better,” he told Power 105.1 in this interview here, “Someone else is going to figure that out and the next person will now know how to go into it better. That’s my job. I took the hit for that.”
Despite the technical glitches, and the complaints about users invasion of privacy, you cannot argue the merit of this joint venture and many more that probably will come. The innovators in anything usually encounter some stumbles and bumps in the roads. Over time, my hope is that things will iron out, and more recording artists, major and smaller names, will be able to strike deals like Jay-Z did with companies like Samsung to promote and release their music.