[Editor’s Note: This is a guest column by Zach Marburger. Marburger is the CEO and Founder of TOPPLE TRACK. Topple Track works with medium to enterprise size artists, brands and labels to protect, monitor, and monetize their content.]
In true Jay-Z fashion, the release of MCHG was progressive and controversial. On July 4 the album was made available to Samsung users via an app available from the Google Play store (the album was released on all other platforms July 9). Samsung previously purchased 1.5 million copies of the album, although the RIAA has waffled on the album’s platinum status. I commend Jay-Z for the strategy, it’s forward thinking, highly lucrative, and helps him build his brand even more.
I was more interested in how people who weren’t Samsung customers responded and, more importantly, any actions of copyright protection taking place on Samsung’s end to prevent those customers from accessing the MCHG. During the first 48 hours, there were outcries of the app glitching, being hacked, and flat out not working. Ouch. Pair that with the millions of people who have an iPhone or any other number of devices (Sorry LG, Blackberry, etc.) who can’t access the content and you have an instant, steamrolling drive of piracy.
(Not too happy)
(USAToday.com picking up on the leaks & glitches)
I felt it was necessary to monitor this fiasco from the central hub of the world’s public information, Google!
Monitor the top Google Search Results for the following 3 search terms to determine the raw amount of copyright infringing links and percentage of search results that contain or link to an unauthorized download page of the MCHG album.
Jay Z Magna Carta Holy Grail
Jay Z Magna Carta Holy Grail Download
Jay Z Magna Carta Holy Grail free
July 4 (4 hours after release) (no copyright request removals)
# Illegal Links Found: 2,454
Jay Z Magna Carta Holy Grail – 64%
Top 10: 50%
Jay Z Magna Carta Holy Grail Download – 93%
Top 10: 100%
Jay Z Magna Carta Holy Grail free – 99%
Top 10: 100%
I look at a lot of piracy statistics and this is as bad as it gets. Within 3 clicks a monkey can download this album on hundreds of different websites for free. Now I doubt Samsung is really looking for a large number of consumers to just up and switch their phones because a Jay-Z album is coming out, but they do want to establish a long term branding relationship. During a period of time when this content is supposed to be ‘exclusive’ and convince consumers to switch to a Samsung device, it fails to be even compelling enough for today’s lament piracy users.
July 5 (1 day after release) (still no copyright request removals)
# Illegal Links Found: 3,936
Top 10: 100%
July 6 (avg) (still no copyright request removals)
# Illegal Links Found: 4,671
Top 10: 99%
July 7 (avg) (still no copyright request removals)
# Illegal Links Found: 5,474
Top Ten: 94%
July 8 (avg) (still-no-copyright request removals!)
# Illegal Links Found: 7,834
July 9 (avg) (still-no-copyright -request removals!!)
# Illegal Links Found: 9,144
July 10 (avg) (still-no-copyright -request removals!!!)
# Illegal Links Found: 10,436
July 11 (avg) ( the first copyright removal request was filed!!!!)
# Illegal Links Found: 10,512
This really throws me for a loop. Why pay for a TV spot on the NBA Finals and partner with one of the world’s biggest stars to offer exclusive content, only to let it be used and abused? As brands start to invest more and more dollars in digital content, they must realize the measures required for proper protection of those assets.
I’m curious to see what marketing and sponsorship production partnerships present themselves on all levels of the industry food chain in the years to come. One recent joint venture includes Nicky Romero releasing a tune with Kia and Axwell & Ingrosso while getting friendly with Disney.
I’ll end with the notion of how important it is to have a broad reaching content strategy, focused on content accessibility and delivery channels. Otherwise, that content runs a substantially higher rate of being pirated. If a consumer has to choose between a Google search with a free download two clicks away or waiting four days for it to be released in order to download it legitimately, the choice is pretty clear.