After a year-long investigation, Norwegian newspaper Dagens Næringsliv claims to have found evidence TIDAL deliberately falsified streaming numbers for albums by Beyoncé and Kanye West, leading to increased royalty payments for the artists.
Per the report, “Beyoncé’s and Kanye West’s listener numbers on TIDAL have been manipulated to the tune several hundred million false plays… which has generated massive royalty payouts at the expense other artists.
Dagens Næringsliv reportedly acquired a hard drive full TIDAL user information and statistics with “billions rows internal TIDAL data]: times and song titles, user IDs and country codes.” The Norwegian newspaper tracked down TIDAL users based on information in the hard drive, and found that their listening habits The Life Of Pablo did not match what the TIDAL logs claimed – one subscriber was recorded as playing Pablo 96 times in a one day, which he called “physically impossible.” A law student in Washington who TIDAL logged as listening to Beyoncé’s Lemonade 180 times in one day also refuted the count.
TIDAL is majority owned by Jay-Z and acquired the company in 2015. Sources close to Billboard says Sprint would pay about $200 million to acquire 33% the company in 2017.
If there is any substance to the claims, the backlash for Tidal could be considerable. The company reportedly paid Sony Music over $4m across March and April 2016 ( which Lemonade accounted for $2.5m), while The Life Pablo accounted for more than $2m the $3.2 Tidal paid to Universal during February and March 2016.
Unsurprisingly, Tidal has been vehement in denying the story Dagens Næringsliv. Tidal’s lawyer at the law firm Reed Smith is quoted as saying “each these accusations is demonstrably false. You DN journalist Markus Tobiassen] and DN lied to NTNU to procure a study”. Read the full 73-page report here.