Jay Z and Samsung's corporate stitch up hits unexpected wall of integrity

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It was inevitable really. As pop music becomes indistinguishable from corporate agendas, the day had to come when a corporation and a pop star would unite to nakedly skew the zeitgeist. Except Billboard, the official chart in the US aren’t having any of it.

When Jay Z announced that he was releasing a new album, the loftily titled ‘Magna Carta Holy Grail’, Samsung had a bit of a brainwave. Their Galaxy range of smartphones was doing pretty well, but it was still lagging some way behind the multi-media military operation that is Apple. Why not buy a million copies of this new album and give it away to Galaxy users? That would make them wonderfully current, because Jay Z is cool and stuff. They could use it to promote a new app as well as their phones. This would be like a whole new way of looking at content delivery, business models and marketing in one fell swoop.

Both parties were very proud of their new deal. Samsung were delighted that for a mere $ 5 million, they were getting some serious brand association and coming across as bling Santa. And Jay Z was ecstatic because he had pocked said $ 5 million before even releasing the album, and the instant sale of 1 million albums would rocket him to the top of the charts.

Enter Billboard to rain on this sown up parade. They categorically refused to include this deal as part of album sales that would contribute toward a chart position, and went a step further by writing a lengthy editorial in Billboard Magazine explaining why they would not countenance this move as fair play. Jay Z feebly claimed that they must count as sales as he had been paid for them, thus missing the point that the whole concept of a chart is about reflecting individual tastes expressed by individual purchases across a country. Though the huge caveat in that statement is that major record labels are using their muscle to stitch up the charts on a daily basis - they are just a couple of degrees more subtle about it than this particular instance.

He may well still hit the top spot, but in this bizarre attempt to sell out selling out that is sadly so symptomatic of the current climate, he fatally misjudged the last vestiges of dignity in pop music’s establishment.

Ironic really, what with Magna Carta being a document that restrained absolutist power and the Holy Grail being eternally elusive.

Written by Cyrus Bozorgmehr - Google+ Profile - More articles by Cyrus Bozorgmehr

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