The Heart Of The Deal: Why Jay Z Really Hooked Up With Samsung

What do you do when you're the king of a dying industry? Start making deals.

"The soul of a hustler, I really ran the streets / A CEO's mind, that marketing plan was me."

So quipped Sean Carter, better known as Jay Z, on "What More Can I Say," a standout among standout tracks on his would-have-been retirement record better known as the Black Album, released back in 2003.

Ten years--and four albums, so much for that retirement--later, the self-proclaimed best rapper alive has changed the nature of the game again. His newest, the lean-luxe Magna Carta Holy Grail was announced and released in the most unconventional--and lucrative--of fashions.

As in, the album was announced as a viral video. One that now has 24 million views.

Then, as Co.Create's Joe Berkowitz pointed out, the album flew to the top of the charts. Why? Samsung bought a million copies of the album for their phone owners.

This caused a lot of collective consternation within the internets. But as Mr. Carter explains to Elliott Wilson, it was a matter of adapting to a dwindling industry.

"First of all, we're in a dying business, everybody sees that," he says. "So what am I supposed to do, just sit here and wait to gets to zero before I do something?"

So what Jay did was what executives do. In the same way that UPS grew a logistics consulting service out of the expertise it developed in delivering packages and thus garnered a new source of revenue, Jay made a deal with Samsung to leverage the tremendous platform that he's accrued as an artist.

He continues:

I'm like, let's figure out how to bring new revenue streams into the business. So I went out on my own and I made a deal ...

To me, if you're not with the changing times, you're irrelevant to me, we're gonna move on. We're not trying to trick the system, I wasn't looking for a number one album.

This is the nature of the entrepreneurial artist: You gotta find new ways to find revenue with the name that you've cultivated.

And so: Jay's got 99 problems. Finding new revenue streams ain't one.

[Jay Z: Landmarkmedia via Shutterstock]

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2 Comments

  • MIQ VERSE

    This deal that Jay made probably should have happened years ago bu this is definitely a plus for musicians as a whole and I really think that artists in general have to realize that they have to be the most important representative of their art because we as artists are going to really have to embrace business and find creative ways to do be successful.