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Million-album giveaway of Jay-Z's 'Magna Carta Holy Grail' won't count towards Billboard charts

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listening to jay-z on an apple iphone 4
listening to jay-z on an apple iphone 4

Jay-Z and Samsung are taking a unique approach in delivering the rapper's new album to fans by giving away 1 million copies of Magna Carta Holy Grail ahead of the record's "proper" release date. But if Jay-Z was hoping the first-of-its-kind promotion would lead to an instant chart-topper on the Billboard 200, he's in for disappointment. Billboard editorial director Bill Werde has revealed that, despite the hefty price Samsung reportedly paid to secure the million downloads, Jay-Z will need to wait until the public can actually buy the album for any sales to be reflected on the all-important Billboard charts.

"In the context of this promotion, nothing is actually for sale."

Jay-Z's representatives have argued that something was indeed for sale and ultimately paid for — albeit by Samsung. But Billboard isn't in agreement. "The ever-visionary Jay-Z pulled the nifty coup of getting paid as if he had a platinum album before one fan bought a single copy," Werde writes. "But in the context of this promotion, nothing is actually for sale." He's not wrong; Samsung shelled out millions to give away Magna Carta Holy Grail, but all fans will need to do — so long as they own a Galaxy S III, Galaxy Note II, or Galaxy S4 — is download a (free) app to redeem a download of the album.

Werde is quick to admit that Billboard will immediately acknowledge traditional CD and digital sales once Jay-Z's latest release reaches consumers. Further, he doesn't seem to think ignoring Samsung's huge buy will cost Hov the top slot. Citing industry forecasts, Werde notes that Jay-Z will likely debut atop the Billboard 200 for the 13th time. But perhaps more importantly, the Samsung giveaway has convinced Billboard to yet again reexamine its chart methodology. "Rest assured, Billboard will find the right balance and metric to chart brand-driven album distribution just as we've found the right metrics for everything from the 78s that played on your grandparents' Victrola to your mom and dad's 8-track to your kid's fascination with the new Miley Cyrus video on Vevo."