Published: Wed, May 09, 2018
Arts&Culture | By Antoinette Montgomery

Norwegian Paper Drops Bombshell - TIDAL Accused of Faking Kanye & Beyonce Streaming Numbers

Norwegian Paper Drops Bombshell - TIDAL Accused of Faking Kanye & Beyonce Streaming Numbers

They are hoping to expose their predicted "several hundred million false plays" which they say has "generated massive royalty payouts at the expense of other artists".

The paper first became suspicious of TIDAL when back in March 2016, the service claimed that Kanye West's The Life Of Pablo, had been streamed 250m times in just 10 days, and that Beyonce's Lemonade - a Billboard 200 No.1 album - was streamed 306m times within the first 15 days of its release.

The newspaper is making the claims based on their receipt of a hard drive containing, according to them, "billions of rows of [internal TIDAL data]: times and song titles, user IDs and country codes". "Life of Pablo" was available exclusively on Tidal for six weeks before it was released on other platforms. That averages out to almost seven "Lemonade" streams a day per user.

The report states that Tidal intentionally falsified streaming numbers for Beyonce's "Lemonade" and Kanye West's "Life of Pablo", respectively.

And those streaming totals resulted in massive royalty payments to the labels responsible for the releases: €4 million ($4.7 million U.S.) to Sony in April and May 2016, of which Lemonade accounted for around $3 million USA, and €3.2 million ($3.8 million U.S.) to Universal in February and March 2016, of which The Life of Pablo accounted for roughly $2.4 million U.S.

Contacting the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, the newspaper discovered "there has in fact been a manipulation of the [TIDAL] data at particular times". Many of those interviewed said these stats are false.

"Through advanced statistical analysis, we have been able to determine that data has been manipulated during certain periods", CCIS wrote in its 74-page report. "The manipulation appears targeted towards a very specific set of track IDs, related to two distinct albums", found the researchers (pdf) at NTNU's Center for Cyber and Information Security.

There is also nothing to indicate a data breach from the outside leaving us to conclude that the manipulation happened within TIDAL itself. "We're not looking to acquire any streaming services".

When Jay-Z had announced his plans to operate TIDAL a few years ago, many artists rushed to join him, buying stakes in the company and partnering with Jay to run a rival streaming service to Spotify and Apple Music. The star-studded rollout promised to usher in a new era of streaming.

The paper goes on to say that an inflated streaming count allowed the company to pay higher amounts of royalties to the artists.

Plagued by mismanagement, Tidal has been all but forgotten in the streaming music wars.

Tidal, by contrast, hasn't released updated subscriber models. This led Norwegian based newspaper Dagens Naeringsliv to investigate and in January 2017, they uncovered documents that suggested that TIDAL had been deliberately inflating its subscriber figures.

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