Tidal Accused of Falsely Inflating Kanye West and Beyonce Stream Numbers
A new investigative report by the Norwegian newspaper Dagens Næringsliv is accusing Tidal of falsely inflating streaming numbers. The outlet claims the streaming platform generated more than 300 million fake streams of Kanye West's The Life of Pablo and Beyonce's Lemonade.
The company is owned by Jay-Z, who is married to Beyonce and frequently collaborates with Kanye, and Dagens Næringsliv believes he created “massive royalty payouts” for the two superstars “at the expense of other artists.”
When TLOP released in 2016, Tidal claimed the album was streamed 250 million times in its first 10 days. At the time, the company also claimed 3 million subscribers, which means every single user would have had to stream the album eight times a day for 10 days straight. Similarly, the company claimed 306 million streams of Lemonade during its first 15 days of availability in April of 2016.
Dagens Næringsliv's investigation was based on having received a hard drive containing what appeared to be two billion rows of internal Tidal streaming data, which was verified by record labels as being the data given to them by Tidal. The publication then contracted the Norwegian University of Science and Technology’s Center for Cyber and Information Security to run a forensic analysis of the data. The CCIS found that 150 million TLOP plays and 170 million Lemonade plays were “duplicates” that did not reflect the actual listening activity of the subscribers they were attributed to.
Dagens Næringsliv also reached out to subscribers who considered themselves as frequent Kanye and Beyonce listeners. One user, when confronted with numbers showing he had listened to TLOP songs 96 times in one day, answered “It’s physically impossible.”
In a statement given to Variety and Pitchfork, Tidal called the Dagens Næringsliv story “a smear campaign from a publication that once referred to our employee as an ‘Israeli Intelligence officer’ and our owner as a ‘crack dealer.’” The statement continues: “We expect nothing less from them than this ridiculous story, lies and falsehoods. The information was stolen and manipulated and we will fight these claims vigorously.”
The “crack dealer” and “Israeli Intelligence officer” refer to Jay-Z and Tidal COO Lior Tibon, and were used in a previous Dagens Næringsliv story according to Variety.
Read the full report here.