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Jay-Z inks contract to distribute new album to smartphone owners

As many entertainment industry professionals in Los Angeles know, smartphones are a game-changer for many traditional media companies. Users read the news, check up on tabloids, listen to music and even stream television shows and movies on their phones. Consequently, they are using desktop computers, laptops and traditional television sets less and less.

This has prompted many companies, from Facebook to the big networks, to scramble in an attempt to capture these users.

Hip-hop mogul Jay-Z may have found a winning formula. On July 4, 1 million owners of Samsung Galaxy mobile phones who have downloaded a special app will get a free copy of his new album “Magna Carta Holy Grail,” three days before the general public can buy it.

His contract with Samsung might mark the start of a new era for entertainers in that it makes taking smartphones into consideration in marketing, promotion and distribution de rigueur.

Interestingly enough, however, Billboard, which charts sales of albums and singles, has said it will not count the 1 million copies of "Magna Carta Holy Grail" that Jay-Z is distributing for free because no sale is taking place. This will have implications not only for the album's chart performance, but also for any sales-based bonus Jay-Z may get from his record label.

As we indicated earlier, entertainment industry professionals are watching this deal closely. If it turns out to be a success, it's almost a sure thing that other entertainers will follow suit. If it does not work out quite as planned, then it's back to the drawing board when it comes to determining how best to capture the growing smartphone audience.

Source: Reuters, “Billboard chart won’t count Jay Z sales from Samsung album deal,” June 21, 2013