Has Jay-Z’s ‘Magna Carta Holy Grail’ Album Gone Platinum Before Its Release?

Samsung agreed to purchase one million copies of the rapper's new album, so is it already certified before its release date? TheWrap investigates…

Last Updated: July 24, 2014 @ 12:21 PM

Jay-Z once spit, "I deserve platinum plaques, to match my bezel." And while the rapper's got a bunch of those (and plenty of bezels), after Samsung announced it would purchase a million copies of his new album "Magna Carta Holy Grail," is there another platinum disc in the mail already?

The answer is "not yet," according to a music industry insider.

A record cannot be certified platinum (or gold, or multiplatinum) before it's out, regardless of presale numbers.

To recap what has transpired with the unusual partnership: Hov and Samsung announced the new album in a three-minute advertisement on Sunday. In the spot, Sean Carter and friends are putting some finishing touches on the previously secret "Magna Carta Holy Grail" album. There is essentially no mention of Samsung at all.

Then, it's announced that Samsung agreed to buy a million digital copies of the record, according to the album's website. The company plans to distribute "Magna" copies to random Samsung Galaxy customers, prior to the album's official July 4 release.

See video: Jay-Z Announces New Album 'Magna Carta Holy Grail' During Samsung Spot

In light of Samsung's unique Jay-Z album purchase, TheWrap investigates the requirements for an album to be certified platinum from Recording Industry Association of America:

1) Sell a million copies of an album. Check. (Thanks, Samsung!)

But one also has to account for returns. Fortunately, digital copies are rarely returned said a source in the industry, and usually only due to accidental purchase. Samsung will not be accidentally purchasing these copies for its customers. So Jay-Z is good there.

You may be wondering: "Does it count if a company or entity makes all one million     purchases? (If you weren't wondering that, you are now.) That's fine. In 2010, Soundgarden went platinum by selling one million copies of their new album to Activision, which bundled the record with one of its "Guitar Hero" installments. Each unit still represented an official sale, according to an RIAA blog.

2) The album must sell for at least one-third of its suggested retail price.

Samsung has reportedly paid $5 for each copy, so the suggested retail price would have to be no more than $15 for the sales to qualify. Who sets the suggested retail price? The record label, so unlikely a problem there.

Also read: If Kanye West Is Steve Jobs, Jay-Z Is Bill Gates

3) Apply for platinum status.

The RIAA does not actually track album sales like SoundScan does. A record label has to apply for gold or platinum status, at which point the RIAA auditors will review the case. That can take days, possibly up to a month. But here's the real rub in "Magna Carta Holy Grail's" case to be declared platinum before it hits the street: Artists have to wait 30 days until after release to apply for the status. Or more simply put by an industry insider, "The album isn’t yet released and therefore not yet eligible." 

And, fail. Temporarily at least.

On Monday, Jay-Z tweeted out the following: "If 1 Million records gets SOLD and billboard doesn't report it, did it happen? Ha. #newrules #magnacartaholygrail Platinum!!! VII IV XIII."

While they may have their own rules regarding bulk sales, Billboard and SoundScan have nothing to do with a record being certfied gold, platinum or multi-platinum. Whether or not it charts similarly to over-the-counter sales, Jay-Z is a few weeks and one application away from getting a nice, shiny package delivery.

So in the meantime, use "platinum" as shorthand to say a million sold if you'd like — but "Magna Carta Holy Grail" has not actually gone certified platinum. But don't feel sorry for the hip-hop mogul. He still has one platinum single for "99 Problems" and 11 platinum albums. With Samsung's pre-purchases of "Magna Carta Holy Grail" alone, Jay-Z is going to have 12 soon — just not before early August.


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