Even if Todd Pendleton hadn't orchestrated the deal for the exclusive five-day premiere of Jay Z's "Magna Carta...Holy Grail" on 1 million Samsung Galaxy devices, he would still be one of 2013's power players. Pendleton is rethinking the way sponsors work with the music industry, and keeping artists, media partners and agents on their toes with a U.S. marketing budget that was to exceed $1 billion in 2013.
Samsung spent big and acted fast, becoming an official partner of South by Southwest, the Billboard Music Awards, Lollapalooza and others, often nailing down strategies just days before their activation. "It's crazy, if you think about how we launch a product," Pendleton said in December. With product details held secret until the last minute, Samsung, its agencies and their partners have a three- to six-week window to get plans executed.
The Jay Z deal was a win from the start. Pendleton sees the album app as the latest step in "the evolution of technology and its role in music and how people are going to digest it."
It seems to be helping Samsung sell products like its Galaxy S4 and Note III, too, as the company's share of smartphone subscribers rose from 24.1% in July, the month of the Jay Z promotion, to 25.4% in October, according to comScore MobiLens. What's next? "Anything that could be happening as early as January or February is still in the works," Pendelton said. "I don't have anything I could share with you."