December 7, 2023

Jay-Z ‘Magna Carta’ App Reveals Privacy Concerns for Music Marketers


We recently wrote about how Jay-Z’s deal with Samsung to offer his new album, Magna Carta Holy Grail available for 1 million customers as a free app represented the new approach to music marketing in the digital age. But already the approach is being questioned as privacy concerns arise from the app.

The privacy issue was brought to mainstream attention by rapper Killer Mike, who tweeted the following screen grab with the caption, “I read this……”Naw I’m cool”

Jay-Z 'Magna Carta'

Killer Mike’s reasons for being suspicious of the app are fairly obvious, and he wasn’t the only one to be disturbed by the amount of access the app wants to your phone. Among the particular causes for concern are “precise (GPS) location,” “modify or delete contents of your USB storage” and “read phone status and identity.”

These privacy issues are in no way only related to this app, and many of these concerns will be found in many other apps consumers use on their phones and other mobile devices everyday, whether they realize it or not. However, it does bring attention to what artists, labels and marketers will have to consider as music marketing continues to take on more digital aspects.

The More Access to Information, The Better for Marketers

The reason for the app’s desire for so much access is clear and easily understandable: the more information Samsung can gain from app users, the more return on investment it will receive from the app. The company reportedly spend $5 million to purchase 1 million copies of Magna Carta , and the overall deal with Jay-Z was worth much more than that. What Samsung gets in return, however, is detailed information on how, when, why and where users are using the app.

Again, this is not a new phenomenon. Companies have been using internet and mobile history for many years to gain insight into their customers that allows them to offer customized user experiences in return. For instance, most people are aware of why ads in Gmail seem specifically related to your interests, and that Amazon will show you recommended items based not only on your previous purchases, but also on your browsing history.

But this certainly sits better with some consumers than others. The recent revelation that the NSA has access to most American’s online activities understandably caused a stir, and on a much smaller scale, Facebook users tend to be worked into a frenzy every time the company changes its privacy policy.

Samsung is certainly not the first marketer to try to gather information from music fans, and it won’t be the last, either. What marketers must pay attention to, however, is that there is a fine line between the amount of information users are comfortable giving up and the amount of privacy they want to retain. And that fine line is constantly shifting in the digital world — marketers must be aware of this to avoid a backlash from consumers that feel the privacy they are giving up is not worth the product they are using.

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