There was a time when artists simply aspired to be heralded as one of the greats of their era. Money always mattered, but the respect of their peers and those whose sole purpose is to recognize musical achievements was equally as, if not more, important. There was a time when the idea of having a record go platinum without being acknowledged for it would probably drive an entertainer insane. Today, one mogul can simply laugh at it.
This tweet, of course, followed a statement from Billboard that essentially declared the 1 million copies of Magna Carta Holy Grail that Jay-Z has already sold to Samsung to be irrelevant in the top charts discussion. In other words, Mr. Carter has not gone platinum before his album drops because, ultimately, those receiving the albums from Samsung will not have paid for them.
Billboard has set this precedent before -- when Prince struck a deal with the DailyMail in England to release 3 million copies of Planet Earth to readers in 2007, they did not count as sales -- so Jay is not likely to have been caught by surprise or bothered. But the fact that he has responded to the "controversy" in such a nonchalant manner is indicative of the reputation he has garnered as a figure that has become bigger than the music industry itself.
In short, Jay-Z just does not care, and why should he?
Between the $5 million that he's already been paid by Samsung for the copies and the 500,000 he's expected to sell in the first week after the record drops, the album is already a huge success. More importantly though, we're talking about the man who sold a clothing line for over $200 million and the guy who co-owns a chain of sports bars.
From considering purchasing a stake in a popular English soccer club, to being the face of the Nets' move to Brooklyn, to becoming co-brand director at Budweiser, to being named executive producer of NBA 2k13 and much more, Jay-Z has made it clear that, at this point, he values the bottom line much more than the top of the charts. Nothing highlights this point more than the news that preceded Billboard's decision by a day.
Last Thursday, Jay-Z became officially licensed to represent NBA and MLB players who are lining up to sign for his new agency, Roc Nation Sports. His next expected signing is Oklahoma City star Kevin Durant. All of this, by the way, has been accomplished without Jay-Z selling his shares in the Nets, which he was expected to do before he could even be considered to become officially licensed, as owners cannot also be players' representatives.
The fact that he has managed to do so without giving up his part-ownership status with Brooklyn yet should not come as a surprise, however. After all, Mr. Carter has been all about new rules these days.
So while Jay-Z laughs Billboard's announcement off with a "If a tree falls and no one hears it..." joke, the noise he's made as a businessman is impossible to ignore and, because of that, everyone should allow us to reintroduce him. He is a self-made entrepreneur and his music is but one of his many ventures.
His one-word Twitter bio appropriately describes him as a genius. He has changed the way in which we view music icons. The standards he's set are that high.
His name is Shawn Carter and he just got paid to leak his own album, but he is not an artist. He's a business, man!
Photo credit: WENN