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Here's what you should know before downloading Jay-Z's "Magna Carta Holy Grail"

Before racing to get your limited free copy of Jay-Z's latest album, you may want to know a few important details, such as privacy and app issues.
July 4, 2013
Jay-Z Magna Carta for Samsung Galaxy

Before downloading your limited free copy of Jay-Z’s latest album (if your device is eligible), you may want to know a few important details. As announced earlier, fans of the American rapper can now get a free copy of his latest album, Magna Carta Holy Grail, if they own a Samsung Galaxy S4, S3, or Note 2. The album will be made available through a Jay-Z branded Android app initially to a million Galaxy device owners.

Aside from the 1 million app download limit, the album will only be available to a number of territories, particularly those considered as major music markets like the United States, Japan, the UK, Canada, and Australia. Good luck to those who may want to try tricking Google into thinking that they qualify for the free download. The app can be downloaded through this link. It may take a few minutes for the album download option to appear on your device.


As of this posting, it would appear that many are not able to download or play the album after the app download. A considerable number of Galaxy device owners complained on Twitter that the Magna Carta app crashes, making it impossible to download the album. The app reportedly freezes and displays an error code. There are reports that it won’t get through the home screen.

The free album will be the clean version, so you can say it will be somewhat safe to play at your workplace or home (if you have kids) and will be safe for younger Galaxy S4 owners interested in getting the album. [Update: Users have the option to download the explicit version after confirming you are at least 18 years old. Thank you, readers, for pointing this out.]

If you want to upload the album to Google Play Music, you just have to go to “My Files” and look for the album in the “Music” folder. Then, use the Google Play Music app to upload the album to your collection in the cloud. If you want to use another application to play the album, just go to the location of the album (My Files / Music) and choose your preferred music player as you open the album files.

Privacy issue

Billboard published an article about a privacy concern related to the Magna Carta app, particularly with its location tracking. The issue was raised by rapper Michael Render (Killer Mike), who posted a screenshot on Twitter that showed the Magna Carta app permissions required: storage modification, system tool access to prevent the phone from sleeping and to retrieve running apps, location tracking, full network communication access, and phone status and identity reading.

But as we have previously mentioned here on Android Authority, app permissions screens tend to be treated like a ToS or EULA — people just don’t care about it. Killer Mike’s meticulousness raises some questions on why a music app would want to be proactive in tracking its users.

Changing the ratings game

As announced by Billboard itself, the 1 million free album downloads to Samsung device owners will not be counted toward the Billboard chart ranking. It can be argued that the album downloads can be considered as “sales” because they have been presumably paid by Samsung. However, Billboard answered that such an idea “doesn’t mesh with precedent.”

Billboard mentioned that in 2008, 600,000 copies of Guns N’ Roses’ Chinese Democracy album were paid upfront by Best Buy and they were not counted as sales. They were only counted when fans actually paid for them.

However, Jay-Z successfully convinced the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) to give him a quick platinum status, albeit with a small asterisk appended. RIAA was compelled to change their rules on Gold & Platinum Program awards.

The change will allow more albums to obtain gold or platinum status sooner, especially through digital album sales. This will be a major change that will affect music promotions and charting (but maybe not for Billboard yet). Musicians with a record of bankability as endorsers will surely exploit this RIAA policy change to partner with major companies in the same way Jay-Z did. This means the possibility of multi-platinum albums within a day or even just a few hours after official release.

Curbing Piracy?

Music piracy is undeniably still a major problem, even with easy access through digital media like iTunes, Google Play Music and other online and mobile apps. Does Jay-Z’s stunt with Magna Carta Holy Grail address it? Not really. It could help promote the album, considering that several news sites and blogs are writing about the stunt. It could also help boost Samsung’s Galaxy S4 sales. However, it is not expected to address piracy directly. Various sites, including YouTube, will still be streaming tracks from the album, and users are still likely to distribute the album via BitTorrent.

The Samsung-Jay Z partnership is certainly making quite an impact, and Jay-Z is obviously reaping the major benefit from the partnership. Let’s just hope Samsung also gets something positive out of the deal.

As of writing, Google play says 500,000 – 1,000,000 installs, which is still within the 1 million mark.