Nearly two months after his Magna Carta Holy Grail rollout tread not-so-lightly between tech-driven marketing innovation and achingly corporate pandering, Jay Z's "new rules" won't leave us alone.
Capping off his $30 million Samsung partnership and continuing Made for Music campaign with Budweiser, Hov and summer touring partner Justin Timberlake just became the first major artists to debut a music video on Facebook as part of their ongoing campaign to figure out when the public will get tired of hearing about them.
The video is for first single "Holy Grail," which features Timberlake's smooth pipes and previously drew headlines for its use of Nirvana lyrics. Draped in expressive lighting and lush cinematography, the clip finds the two artist slinking around a creepy mansion, puffing cigarette smoke and showing off their chains. Slate calls it "artsy," though, like much of the album, "lavish" might be the adjective to use. Here it is:
So why Facebook? As Billboard notes, the company's increasing interest in video isn't altogether surprising:
Facebook's clout in video has grown in the past few months, led by the addition of Instagram video, where artists like Cher, Timberlake and Macklemore have premiered content and announcements in recent weeks. Artists like Madonna, Rihanna and Katy Perry have also hosted exclusive video Q&As, hosted by TV personalities like Andy Cohen and Jimmy Fallon, as a more interactive alternative to the late-night talk show circuit. Facebook was also the leading candidate to replace YouTube as the host platform for Vevo during heated contract renewal discussion in 2012, before Vevo eventually reupped with Google earlier this year.
Not that there's anything particularly anti-corporate about premiering a music video on YouTube or, say, MTV in 2013. But in context, this feels like the latest in Jay Z's ongoing campaign to treat his record as a flashy tech product instead of a piece of music. Alas, the album itself drew subpar reviews and was widely criticized for its preoccupation with wealth, so perhaps the mansions and champagne glasses and tech-world partnerships all fit neatly together.
Arguably, with The 20/20 Experience, Timberlake has done a far better job of toeing the line between pop superstar and luxury brand.
But JT has had his own trials with corporate partnerships sprouting up between audience and artist. First there were the cynically minded reports that The 20/20 Experience was motivated more by a $20 million contract with LiveNation than any sort of artistic drive. Then came the deal with Target, which is exclusively selling the deluxe edition of The 20/20 Experience 2 of 2. That deal arguably reached its nadir last night, when Timberlake performed for a Target commercial at the recently defunct Maxwell's in Hoboken, New Jersey, which is better known for hosting punk gigs and Yo La Tengo's annual Hanukkah shows.
Fittingly, Yo La Tengo powerlessly mocked the spectacle from afar:
"New rules," eh? Timberlake hasn't yet shown off his album art next to a genuine 800-year-old political charter, but we're not writing it out of the question.