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Jay Z's million-album Samsung sale unlikely to count for charts

Rapper Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter attends 'The Great Gatsby' world premiere at Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New
Rapper Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter attends 'The Great Gatsby' world premiere at Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New

By Eric Kelsey

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Rapper Jay Z's upcoming studio album will go to a million users of Samsung smartphones three days before its official release in a promotional deal, but the distribution is unlikely to count toward official sales figures, an industry expert said on Monday.

Jay Z, 43, announced on Sunday in a three-minute television commercial during the telecast of basketball's NBA Finals that his latest album "Magna Carter Holy Grail" will be released on July 4 exclusively to 1 million users of Samsung smartphones who had downloaded a special app. That is three days before its public release.

On Monday, the rapper said the record was "platinum," posting on Twitter, "If 1 Million records gets SOLD and billboard (magazine) doesn't report it, did it happen? Ha...Platinum!!!"

For official counting purposes the answer is "no," said David Bakula, an analyst for Nielsen Entertainment, whose Nielsen SoundScan figures are used to rank Billboard's weekly music chart.

Although the rapper's latest album is expected top the U.S. Billboard 200 album chart in its first week, bulk sales that are given away are not counted in total sales, according to Billboard's policy, even if the rapper and his record label are paid for the records.

"The bottom line is they're getting paid on a million albums," Bakula told Reuters. "From what Billboard considers chart-eligible, we don't count free-to-consumers (albums)."

In the commercial for "Magna Carter Holy Grail," Jay Z is seen in a recording studio discussing the new album, release date and the deal with South Korea's Samsung Electronics Co Ltd.

The decision to distribute the album to Samsung users three days before the record becomes available to the general public on July 7 may come as a blow to Samsung's chief smartphone rival, Apple Inc, makers of iPhones and music distribution service iTunes.

This is the first solo album since 2009's "The Blueprint 3" for Jay Z, whose real name is Shawn Carter.

The rapper last collaborated with rapper Kanye West on the 2011 album "Watch the Throne," which topped album charts and was accompanied by a sold-out world tour.

Jay Z will begin a "Legends of Summer" North American stadium tour with pop singer Justin Timberlake on July 17, after featuring on Timberlake's hit song "Suit & Tie."

Samsung holds the largest global market share among smartphone makers with 32.7 percent. Apple is in second with 17.3 percent. Samsung shipped 70.7 million phones in the first quarter this year.

"Magna Carta Holy Grail" will be released by Universal Music Group's Roc-A-Fella Records. Universal is owned by France's Vivendi SA.

(Reporting by Eric Kelsey; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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