Jay-z might get a bit too much credit as an innovator

Now I thought about this earlier but I was reminded as I watched Jay-z's interview on the Breakfast Club and they talked about him being an innovator with his recent Samsung mobile app and music distribution. Now if you read the blog you might know that I just read Prince's autobiography and if you know anything about Prince you know he engaged in a huge fight with his formal label Warner Brothers so let me go down a path showing how he is a person we shouldn't forget what groundwork he layed.

Now Prince signed what on paper looked to be a great deal but at the end of the day he and Warner didn't see eye to eye on his recording schedule, the musical direction, or promotional aspects. This is the period where he became the 'symbol' and continued to release work. Shortly thereafter, at the beginning of the true internet age 1997-98 Prince began marketing himself online and created a music club for his fans where they paid a yearly fee and were able to download music and get exclusive content. He was way ahead of the curve. Another thing he also did, much to the chagrin of Billboard and soundscan, was to include a copy of his album Musicology with every ticket sold on the tour for the album of the same name. Third, before a set of concerts in England's 02 arena, he signed a deal with the Sunday paper to distribute his album free with every copy of the newspaper sold shortly before the dates started.

In the more modern era, it seems to be forgotten that Busta Rhymes actually has released an album (Year of The Dragon) since he has signed to Cash Money Records or Young Money whatever...it dropped maybe two years ago only through the Google Play store and at the time I thought it was unique but it didn't have the impact as this recent Jay-z drop. One reason Busta might not have sold the album as copies to Google which is what Jay did with Samsung in order for them to count. It is also Busta Rhymes who is definitely not of the profile of the greatest rapper to do it. The promotional program was also lacking considering there was no Game 5 of the NBA finals commercial to support it.

At the end of the day, Jay does get credit for being the guy who can bring together a lot of aspects and make them popular and well known more so than some other artists. I mean digital distribution is doen all of the time now, ever heard of itunes? Free music happens all of the time especially with unsigned artists on sites like soundclick and bandcamp. Promotionally, no one does it better than Jay although this is largely a replay of Kingdom Come where Budweiser (who also just dropped a new Jay-z ad) paid for the lead single video and rolled him a truck load of money. This isn't to say that Jay isn't an innovator because he is, but a lot of times in our haste to shower him with praise we don't realize what he did, really wasn't that much of a reach but he is the right person at the right time to pull it off.


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