It was a commercial break that any NBA fan, let alone those cheering on the Miami Heat, may remember for quite a while. For an entire 3 minute commercial break, viewers were treated to a mini-documentary highlighting recording artist Jay-Z’s work in the recording studio building to the announcement of his new album, “Magna Carta Holy Grail,” which is set to be released early next month.

Yet, perhaps the most surprising part of the artist’s announcement was that electronics giant Samsung, which also featured in the TV spot, had pre-purchased one million copies of the yet-to-be-released album. Samsung intends to distribute its copies free to users of its’ premier smart phones who sign up for a special app. The company reportedly paid $5 per copy of the album, which means the album is at platinum status without having been released. For those who are not on Samsung smartphones, the album will be made available three days after.

Deals like this one are a beacon to many musicians and other entertainers and help illustrate a movement within the music industry away from old standards to a new way of business. In the past, artists typically signed “Exclusive Recording Agreements,” but times are changing and a partnership based model, known as “360° deals” are becoming the norm. In these cases, the record company and the artist work together on both recording and non-recording activities. This can include endorsements and other activities aimed at increasing exposure and ultimately selling more records. Other artists such as Lady Gaga and Taylor Swift have recently taken part in promotions to improve record sales and enhance their market value.

Although Jay-Z has built and leads his own media empire, the role of agents remains vital to ensuring that negotiated agreements maximize their value for the musicians and other entertainers. Working with an attorney experienced in the entertainment industry could make all the difference, whether just starting out or experiencing world-wide fame.

Source: Miami Herald, “With Samsung, Jay-Z’s business continues to boom,” Mesfin Fekadu, June 18, 2013