We all know that the United States’ National Security Agency (NSA) is monitoring social network and other communications activity, so New York Times music critic Jon Pareles takes issue with Jay-Z’s deal with Samsung to make his new album “Magna Carta … Holy Grail” available only if you share all sorts of personal information:
In “Jay’s Back ASAP,” a song on a 2010 mixtape called “Creative Control,” Jay-Z was indignant about phone surveillance and bribing witnesses: “They tap, them feds don’t play fair/They pay rats to say that they’re part of your operation,” he rapped. But to market his new album, “Magna Carta … Holy Grail,” he didn’t exactly stand on principle.
Samsung bought a million downloads of the album, for $5 each, to be given away on July 4 — five days before the album’s official release — through a mobile application, JAY Z Magna Carta, on certain Samsung models. It’s an ugly piece of software.
It demands permissions, including reading the phone’s status and identity, which made some users, notably the rapper Killer Mike, suspicious: Does Jay-Z really need to log my calls? It also gathers “accounts,” the e-mail addresses and social-media user names connected to the phone. Those permissions are often part of a typical app package. This one got worse.
When installed, it demanded a working log in to Facebook or Twitter and permission to post on the account. “We would like fans to share the content through social networking sites,” a Jay-Z spokeswoman said by e-mail. (E-mail to Samsung Mobile’s customer service address for the app was returned as undeliverable throughout Wednesday.) But the app was more coercive.
In the days before the album’s release through Samsung, the app promised to display lyrics — with a catch. “Unlocking” the lyrics required a post on Facebook or Twitter. I used Twitter, where hitting the “Tweet” button brought up a canned message: “I just unlocked a new lyric ‘Crown’ in the JAY Z Magna Carta app. See them first. http://smsng.us/MCHG2 #MagnaCarta.” The message could be altered, but something had to be sent. No post, no lyrics — for every song. Users were forced to post again and again. And frankly, a lyric that is going to show up almost immediately on the Internet isn’t much of a bribe for spamming your friends…
[continues in the New York Times]