Jay-Z inks Samsung deal to release new LP, ‘Magna Carta Holy Grail’

Jay-Z has partnered with Samsung to give away 1 million copies of his new album,  “Magna Carta Holy Grail.”

The rapper announced the deal during a 3-minute commercial that aired during Sunday (June 16) night”s NBA game between the Miami Heat and the San Antonio Spurs.

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Samsung Galaxy users will get the music via a “Magna Carta” app starting July 1, three days before it is available at retail, according to Billboard.

Sunday night”s commercial featured Jay-Z  (on a Samsung phone, no doubt), as well as  in the studio as a solo piano track plays (sounding like “Empire State of Mind.”) as he”s show working with, among others,  Rick Rubin, Swizz Beats, Timbaland and Pharrell.  The music vacillates from beats to straight-ahead rock and pop.

“The album is about this duality, how do you navigate your way through this whole thing, through success, through failure and remain yourself,” Jay-Z says.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Samsung paid $5 per album, instantly adding $5 million to Jay-Z”s bank account.

The pact is an opening salvo in what is rumored to be a $20 million partnership between Jay-Z and Samsung, as first reported by the New York Post.  The tabloid reported that the deal will also include a way for Jay-Z to promote his acts through Samsung

Just like his wife, Beyonce”s, deal with Pepsi, Justin Timberlake”s pact with Budweiser, and Alicia Keys” partnership with Blackberry,  Hova”s deal with Samsung highlights the increasing reliance on superstar acts to align themselves with brands in a way that takes sponsorship into a new realm. Corporate sponsorship, of course, is nothing new, but it used to be primarily for underwriting tours. Now, it could become the new distribution model.

Writing a $5 million check to Jay-Z before the first note is heard is a big deal for a record label these days, as album sales have plummeted over the past decade. However, a $5 million check for Samsung is chump change (well, not quite, but you get the idea). Plus, deals with Samsung and Blackberry allow for their own musical delivery systems.

Samsung has been the only true competitor with Apple on the smart phone front and it looks like this could be the Korean company”s next big move to take on Apple on the music distribution front.

The question remains how this will affect the three remaining major record companies: Sony, Universal, and Warner Music Group. For now, if they have an artist still under contract, as Sony does with Beyonce and Justin Timberlake, they will be partners with the corporate brand, but as more and more artists come out of contract, expect them to sign deals with corporations with far deeper pockets than to re-enlist with a major label.

We’ve come a long way from Neil Young’s 1988 video for “This Note’s For You,” which chastised musicians, such as Michael Jackson and Eric Clapton for allowing their music to be aligned with advertisers.