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The $5 per unit Jay-Z is reportedly getting from Samsung for the album is found money, but he’s also benefiting greatly from the millions the Korean company is pouring into marketing, which is exposing the Jay-Z brand on a massive scale.
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On the face of it, Jay-Z’s deal with Samsung to give away 1m downloads of his upcoming album worldwide to owners of Galaxy phones and tablets on the Fourth of July appears to be a brilliant branding opportunity for all the participants. The connection with the rap superstar furthers Samsung’s ongoing campaign to position the Galaxy as the "cool, young" smartphone, as opposed to the iPhone, while the window of exclusivity gives Google Play a 72-hour leg up on the iTunes Store, providing Google’s app platform with some all-important visibility in this battle of tech superpowers.

As for Jay-Z, the $5 per unit he’s reportedly getting from Samsung for the album is found money, but he’s also benefiting greatly from the millions the Korean company is pouring into marketing, which is exposing the Jay-Z brand on a massive scale. According to insiders, UMG’s margin on the distribution deal for this album is relatively thin; did they share the $5m, and how will the giveaway impact sales for Steve BartelsIDJ? In any case, this project has reunited Bartels and Jay-Z, who had a close working relationship at the label.

The superstar/entrepreneur’s last LP, 2009’s The Blueprint 3, which he put through WMG, debuted with 476k and went on to sell 1.96m, powered by the modern-day standard "Empire State of Mind" (5.3m).

Jay-Z and Samsung broke the news in a stunning grandstand play Sunday night during Game 5 of the NBA Finals—a prime-time TV event that Jimmy Iovine has masterfully utilized in exploiting the symbiotic relationship between IGA and Beats. The savvy marketing of Beats’ audio products in combination with exposure of the label group’s repertoire has reached critical mass during the postseason, providing both with serious traction while fueling a pair of smashes: Robin Thicke’s "Blurred Lines" (selling at a brisk clip) and Imagine Dragons’ ubiquitous "Radioactive." (3.3m, with the album at 1.05m). Additionally, Lana Del Rey’s 2012 LP is up to 650k with no radio whatsoever.

Insiders say Iovine is fully reengaged and motivated to innovate once again now that John Janick is managing the label, which had suffered from a power vacuum for some time prior to the latter’s arrival last fall. Janick’s remarkably effective day-to-day running of the revitalized company has enabled Iovine to play the role for which he is best suited—that of puppet master.

UMG and Sony Music are said to be deciding whether to sell their stakes in VEVO. Guggenheim’s Todd Boehly, who appears to be the most likely buyer, is believed to want VEVO as a platform for his company’s TV holdings, which include dick clark productions, the Golden Globes, the AMAs, the ACMs, Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve With Ryan Seacrest and the Billboard Music Awards.

VEVO is now throwing off hundreds of millions in profits to the labels’ bottom lines. If Sony and Universal decide to sell, they’ll pocket a big payout for their equity stake while still using VEVO to expose their content as well as deriving a piece of the ad revenue.

Insiders say Aaron Rosenberg, who is widely considered to be one of the hottest young entertainment attorneys in the business, received an overture from Allen Grubman to join the iconic dealmaker’s firm, amid speculation that Grubman intends to open a West Coast office. But even with Grubman’s reputation as the dominant music attorney of the last several decades, he was apparently unable to persuade Rosenberg (whose star-studded client roster includes Justin Bieber, Jennifer Lopez, John Legend, Brandon Creed and Joel Klaiman) to leave Myman Greenspan Fineman Fox Rosenberg & Light.

His present firm boasts fellow heavyweights Eric Greenspan (Red Hot Chili Peppers, Christina Aguilera, Steve Berman, Rob Stevenson, Quentin Tarantino), Jeff Light (Rob Zombie, Queens of the Stone Age) and Francois Mobasser (Jack Johnson, Common). Myman Greenspan also does significant business in film and TV.

On the same subject, if Grubman is indeed on the hunt for a new player, what affect will it have on his heir apparent, Kenny Meisalas? And will Grubman’s possible West Coast move create a domino effect, causing other entertainment-law firms to begin to think about following suit?

Last week’s exit of Warner Bros. Records President/COO Livia Tortella, one of the last remnants of the former regime at the label, is a clear sign that the expected housecleaning by label ruler Cameron Strang is now underway. What further changes is Strang planning?

Names in the rumor mill: Jordan Feldstein, Michael Guido, Barry Weiss, Britney Spears/Dr. Luke, Judy McGrath, Scooter Braun and Michael Jackson’s ghost.

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