3 ‘Magna Carta Holy Grail’ Marketing Lessons from Jay Z

Learn how Jay Z changed the music marketing game with a Samsung deal to precede the launch of his twelfth studio album.

Music mogul Jay Z announced the release of his new album, Magna Carta Holy Grail, in a three-minute Samsung commercial during game 5 of the NBA Finals. The ad showed Jay Z collaborating with Hip-Hop’s most successful producers Rick Rubin, Pharell Williams, Swizz Beatz and Timbaland about how to reinvent your empire for today’s digital world, yet stay true to who you are.

Running a prime-time TV commercial is nothing too exciting for the rich and famous. But look at the bigger marketing moves he made. Jay Z’s album wasn’t set for release until July 4th, but prior to the launch he had already sold a million copies. How?

One genius marketing move: According to the Wall Street Journal, Samsung purchased 1 million copies of his album at $5 each, so he made $5 million dollars for an album that hadn’t even been released yet.

“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.


3 Marketing Lessons Learned from Jay Z

Jay Z changed the music marketing game with this one deal. While small business owners may not have millions of dollars lying around, we can all learn a little something – three smart marketing lessons to be exact – from Jay Z.

1. Be Bold.

The music industry announced an increase in global sales last year for the first time since 1999. The incremental increase of 0.3 percent and total revenue of $16.5 billion was still much lower than the $38 billion that the industry raked in at its peak more than 10 years ago.

Jay Z is a risk taker who knew he had to take bold steps to overcome challenges in his industry and capitalize on opportunities presented in today’s digital world.

Look at your industry and competitors and do something different. For example, if you’re a hair stylist, consider partnering with your local Boys and Girls Club and summer camps to offer free seminars to girls on how to properly care for their hair. If you are a retailer, consider partnering with companies that offer complimentary products and services. This low-cost step can build your local customer base and create value for multiple parties all at the same time.

Jay Z is a risk taker who knew he had to take bold steps to overcome challenges in his industry and capitalize on opportunities presented in today’s digital world.

2. Create Value.

Jay Z sold one million copies of his album for $5 each to Samsung. Anyone who has ever bought a CD or downloaded an album on iTunes knows that you’ll never get a full CD worth of music for less than $9.99 – and that’s on the cheap side. So why did Jay Z sell copies for half the normal price? Because he saw past the per-unit price and focused on the big picture.

Take a leap of faith by offering something free – a free workout at your gym, a consultation for small business owners. Sure it may cost you time and money now, but these simple steps can boost awareness and potentially expand your customer base.

3. Find a Brilliant, Well-Connected Partner

Jay Z is a music mogul and overall successful businessman.

According to the Salt Lake Tribune:

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 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.”

He knows how to build success – work with someone who has the skills and experience in an area of interest. When he wanted to play in “Wild West” we call the Internet, he partnered with Samsung, one of the world’s largest telecommunications companies.

Smart business people know the importance of strategic partnerships. Now, while major players like Samsung may not take your calls today, you can still find partners who can add their skills to your business. For example, if you own a graphics design firm, you may consider cross-promotional partnerships with a freelance writer to develop website copy for your clients.

Putting these marketing tips to use can boost your credibility. But first, do your homework and develop promotional and partnership strategies that will be attractive to your target audience.


Apryl Beverly, the President of BAAB Writing and Marketing Services (BAAB) helps small businesses and Fortune 500 companies leverage their secret marketing weapon – words. BAAB’s services include developing low-cost, high-impact business plans, marketing strategies and writing copy for ads, brochures, press releases, product or service descriptions, press releases and other business communications. She also publishes a resource blog for mom business owners. For more tips on how to market your small business subscribe to Apryl Beverly’s blog.


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