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What Jay - Z's Magna Carta Holy Grail Means For The Music Industry
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What Jay  -  z\'s Magna Carta Holy Grail Means for the Music Industry

Jay-Z recently released his album Magna Carta... Holy Grail which was preceded by a massive shipment of one million copies to Samsung. Samsung bought each copy at $5 and was going to distribute the album as a free app to the first million people who download the app. What does this mean for the music industry? Well, quite a lot. The album's release was controversial within the industry and has caused quite a bit of confusion in the RIAA and Billboard.

The RIAA was confused by the release and had to change one of its rules for the gold and platinum rewards program. Jay-Z's album release helped changed a rule in the RIAA. The rule was that an album cannot be certified platinum or gold until at least 30 days after its release. This rule was placed in order to give physical distributors the chance to return unsold records if they were returned or the album flopped. Jay-Z's release changed this, while seemingly unrelated, by having an obvious million copies shipped that couldn't be returned. Of course this goes for all digital music sales, not just shipments to Samsung; but it was the immediate platinum status that finally pushed the new rule into play.

Billboard on the other hand was also confused as to what they should do about the release. Should they change their chart rules to adapt to this innovative release? Or should they keep their album charts as they always have been, based on sales only. Billboard writes "Just because the Billboard 200 has been based purely on sales of an album for the entirety of the life of the chart doesn't mean it must always remain so... Should artists be forced to choose between landing a big brand deal or landing a higher placement on the Billboard charts? The answer to that should not be 'yes,'" giving hope to a future chart change. Will the chart change come during the next major promotion, as happened with YouTube on the Hot 100? ("Gangnam Style" wasn't impacted by YouTube streams, but "Harlem Shake" was)

It's amazing how much a single album can impact the music industry, not by its content but by its release. Perhaps this is just the beginning of major artists selling massive quantities of units before release or various other innovative release patterns. It made the RIAA release a new rule and it's made the Billboard staff question their album chart. Will someone else start selling albums as a pack-in with cereal? Free download on a game console such as the XBox One or Wii U? The possibilities are endless for artists to release their music today, it doesn't always have to be a CD, vinyl, or digital sale anymore.

"We don't have any rules; everybody is trying to figure it out," said Jay-Z. "That's why the Internet is like the Wild West, the Wild Wild West. We need to write the new rules."


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