10 New Rules of the Magna Carta Holy Grail

The genius of Sean Carter is on display once again for the world to see with the innovative release of his latest project Magna Carta Holy Grail (MCHG). This is NOT an album review but this IS a breakdown of the unique marketing techniques, the new rules, that surround this entire project. Jay-Z didn’t just produce an album he a new blueprint, a new manifesto of how a project or product should be marketed in the new millennium.

The 10 New Rules of the Magna Carta Holy Grail 

Official MCHG Cover Art

MCHG’s Official Cover Art

10) Made You Look – Jay-Z debuted the Magna Carta Holy Grail in a commercial during halftime of the NBA finals game 5 between the Spurs and the Heat, which was one of the most competitive and talked about NBA Finals series in many years. I have seen this done before by the pop icon, Michael Jackson in years past. However, Jay-Z added a new twist to it by capitalizing off of social media, because once his commercial for MCHG dropped the tweets, Instagrams and Facebook posts spread like a whirlwind.

9) Made You Tweet – The social media aspect of sharing to unlock videos was also another innovative way to further market the project. This did not appeal to me in the least and I am glad that I did not have to share anything with anyone to get the album via the MCHG app but I think it had diehard Jay-Z fans tweeting hard to unlock every once of original content they could get.


8) Read it..It’s Deep! – The inclusion of the lyrics in the app add a nice element for Hip-Hop fans & rapgenius decoders. The lyrics are already formatted similarly to the Decoded format and could easily be added to a new Jay-Z best seller, requiring less editing and only the inclusion of Jay’s commentary to supplement the lyrics.I can already envision a new volume of Decoded ready to hit the shelves.


7) Brand Loyalty & Looking Out –  Much has been said about Samsung purchasing rights to 1 million of the MCHG albums which it released 5 days prior to the July 9th retail release to Samsung Galaxy 4, Galaxy 3 and Galaxy Note 2 users, who downloaded the MCHG app. As of tonight, July 8th the MCHG app is no longer available on the Google Play app store and it is showing that there have already been over 1,000,000 downloads of the MCHG app.

MCHG on Google Play

6) The app is a Hack!?One complaint has been that the MCHG app requires users to agree to give access to users’ phone data. After some research, I do believe that this is standard practice for apps and nothing really below the board. I know the conspiracy theorists and Illuminati watchdogs ain’t trying to hear it, but what app doesn’t have access to most if not all of your data? I mean you have Google, Twitter, Foursquare, Facebook, Instagram with access to our data and we aren’t even talking about the alphabet boys yet. But if Jay does want access to your personal info you might not want to “talk crazy” about his baby!

MCHG App Permissions Screenshot

MCHG App Permissions Screenshot

5) The app is whack! – My main issue with the MCHG app is that it crashed much too often and it takes a long time to load. You cannot fast forward or rewind any of the tracks. All the controls for the music delivery are manual and give you less playback control than an old cassette player or vinyl record. The album can only be accessed when the MCHG app is open but the app does allow you to run it in the background  with the screen turned off without pausing play (like YouTube does). You cannot play the free album on your smartphone’s native music player. Of course these are all inconveniences but beggars can’t be choosers and I know better than to complain when I just got a free hook-up. Jay-Z is also showing us that a good idea and innovation trump execution and user will be patient when they get something of value, something unique and something that is well priced or free.

4) You See I Said – The video commentary for many of the songs on the album, which was available on the MCMG app, added important context to the project, allowing viewers to witness Jay’s  artistic vision and process, making us more interested and more likely to feel his music and perspectives on the album.

3) Certified Platinum Off Top – These initial 1 million album sales by Samsung won’t count towards the album on the Billboard charts but the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) will accept those sales making the album instantly platinum.

If 1 Million records gets SOLD and billboard doesnt report it, did it happen? Ha. #newrules #magnacartaholygrail Platinum!!! VII IV XIII

— Mr. Carter (@S_C_) June 17, 2013

2) Dish it Out & Don’t Be Greedy – Despite the drawbacks and limitations of the MCHG app, it must be noted that Jay-Z is keenly aware that he is creating “new rules” by blazing new lanes. It may be that rule #1 is Thank me now buy it later! I found out today (July 9th) that Jay-Z actually did not try to double-up off the MCHG album. I thought Jay-z was not going to release the full download of the MCHG album for the MCHG app users but he did! I initially thought he was going not going to allow MCHG app users to have full access to the album without the app itself. I thought that this would  force thousands of app only listeners to go and buy the album on their own dime to be free of the MCHG app playback restrictions. I also thought Jay-Z could have added bonus tracks on the July 9th release that would have created further incentive for MCHG app users to buy a full priced or deluxe version of the album. However, Jay-Z did not do his fans and supporters dirty. Jay-Z showed that donating and giving people something of value at a discount or for free will get you much more support and loyalty than by trying to be greedy. Jay-Z has been dishing out a lot of love to the world with the release of MCHG, like the recent Twitter love he gave out to his fans.

1) The Dollars are in the Data! – The #MCHG app has allowed Jay and his team to have access to a slew of data about which songs users listened to the most and which tracks they listened to the least. This can help in identifying which songs should be marketed as videos and get pushed as radio singles, if Jay-Z wants to even go that route.

In closing, MCHG will forever change Hip-Hop, its economic model and its creativity on digital platforms. Jay-Z has definitely kicked down this door and it’s going to be interesting to see how others follow down this uncharted path. Jay-Z has just shown the entertainment and business world a whole new way to approach the sale and distribution of digital media content. This is not even taking into consideration the artistic value of MCHG and the historical perspectives needed to understand the unique position and person who Jay-Z/Sean Carter is.



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