Jay Z’s ‘Exclusive’ Album Release Triggers a Piracy Bonanza

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Jay-Z's new album, Magna Carta Holy Grail, has been making headlines all over the world since its exclusive pre-release yesterday, but not for all the right reasons. The album was made available for free to one million Samsung smartphone and tablet users but crashed servers and privacy concerns are making pirated alternatives more appealing to some. The result after one day is more than 200,000 pirated downloads via torrent sites alone, and this number is increasing at a rapid pace.

jay-zThursday night Jay-Z’s new studio album, Magna Carta Holy Grail, was made available for free to a million Samsung smartphone and tablet owners, through an app.

Great promotion for Samsung perhaps, but not for the fans who have to wait three extra days for the “official release.”

This lack of legal availability prompted many Jay Z fans, who otherwise might have paid, to turn to unauthorized sites where the album dropped around the same time. Why torture yourself for 72 more hours if copies are available over the Internet, some must have thought.

But lack of availability is not the only reason why some people may fancy a pirated copy, there appears to be other factors as well.

Due to high demand and crashed servers many people with a Samsung device couldn’t download the album app. Others were concerned about the rather broad permissions the app requires.

Rapper Killer Mike was one of many unhappy to share their GPS location, and as a result kindly declined to download the app. “I read this and……..’Naw I’m cool’,” he tweeted.


Considering the above, the pirated alternatives may actually be more appealing than the free legal offering, a situation not unlike those experienced with DRM-laced products.

And indeed, the app problems – but most of all the limited availability – resulted in a true piracy bonanza.

Within hours of appearing on torrent sites 100,000 people had grabbed a copy of the album. And, according to fresh data gathered by TorrentFreak, the counter has now passed 200,000. For the record, that’s from torrent sites alone.


Magna Carta Holy Grail is currently the most-shared album on The Pirate Bay and will probably remain in the lead for a while and at least until the album hits the stores on Monday.

While the Samsung deal with a million sold copies will propel Jay Z to the top of the charts, it is questionable whether the music industry should see it as an experiment worth repeating.

Aside from the server glitches and privacy concerns, making something available to a limited crowd hardly seems ‘current’ in the Internet age. In any case, it’s not the best strategy to keep people away from pirate sites.


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