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Jay-Z hooks up with Samsung for new album

He really is more than a businessman.

Jay-Z's partnership with Samsung for his new album, "Magna Carta Holy Grail," is another sign of how musicians are finding new ways to push, sell and promote their music, and how the multiplatinum performer -- who famously rapped "I'm not a businessman, I'm a business, man" -- continues to leverage his enduring popularity into a successful brand.

Jay-Z, 43, will give his new album to 1 million users of Galaxy mobile phones on July 4, three days before the album's official release date. He broke the news about his 12th studio album in a three-minute commercial during an NBA Finals telecast.

Details about the Samsung-Jay-Z deal, announced Sunday, weren't disclosed, and neither party granted interviews.

But Jay-Z's partnership is just another way artists are promoting their music at a time when album sales are low and the digital market has taken the lead in the music industry.

Jim Donio, president of the National Association of Recording Merchandisers, said top-level acts like Jay-Z and Taylor Swift have the power to launch new albums in spectacular ways with various partners.

Swift had her second platinum-debut week with "Red" last year. Her partnerships for the album included Target, Walgreens and Papa John's (you could order a pizza and a Swift album at the same time).

Jay-Z's new partnership is one of his many business deals. His Roc Nation agency, which manages Rihanna, Shakira and other musicians, recently expanded into the sports world, and he now is helping the careers of New York Yankee Robinson Cano, New York Jets rookie Geno Smith and others. Jay-Z has launched fashion lines, has a string of 40/40 nightclubs, was also the president of Def Jam Recordings and owned part of 1 percent of the Brooklyn Nets.

He's still a consistent hit maker and a superstar who transcends music -- which is why Samsung likely partnered with him on his new album.

Samsung has chipped away at Apple's share of the mobile market with its Galaxy phones, and companies are relying more on music to lure new customers (Apple last week announced it will debut iTunes Radio, its streaming music service, in the fall).

One of the many questions about the Samsung deal still unanswered: Will the 1 million downloads count toward first-week sales of the album, giving it the rare status of debuting with platinum sales?

Billboard, which tracks album sales, did not return emails seeking comment. Samsung reportedly purchased the albums though it's unclear what the price point was.

Jay-Z made it clear Monday what he felt the trade publication should do.

"If 1 Million records gets SOLD and billboard doesn't report it, did it happen? Ha," he tweeted, adding: "Platinum!!!"


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