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Why Samsung Paid $5 Million to Give Away the New Jay-Z Album

Why Samsung Paid $5 Million to Give Away the New Jay-Z Album
Photograph by Barry Brecheisen/Invision/AP Photo

When I was in high school, I worked at a record store. It didn’t pay as much as the other jobs I could have gotten, but it came with access to Wu-Tang Clan albums a few days before they went on sale. This ended up benefiting me in ways that an hourly wage never would. Everyone at school wanted those CDs, and it was worth a financial sacrifice to be the one doling them out.

This is essentially the business model that technology companies have adopted for digital music. Take Samsung’s deal with Jay-Z, announced during Sunday’s NBA Finals game. Jay-Z’s new album, Magna Carta Holy Grail, will be available through an app to 1 million Galaxy phone users on July 4, three days before the general public will be able to buy it. Samsung paid $5 million for the rights to give away digital versions of the album, according to the Wall Street Journal.