TIDAL has been accused of inflating stream numbers for owners Beyoncé and Kanye West

Coming under fire.

Jay-Z’s music streaming service TIDAL has been accused of intentionally inflating streaming numbers for albums by a Norwegian newspaper.

In a 78-page report by Dagens Næringsliv, it has been alleged the streaming numbers for Beyoncé’s Lemonade and Kanye’s Life of Pablo were falsified by “several hundred million plays” in a bid to secure massive royalty payments for both artists – who also happen to be TIDAL owners.

Back in 2016, TIDAL stated it had scored 250 million streams for Kanye’s Life of Pablo in the first 10 days of its release. At the same time however, the streaming service claimed to have just surpassed 3 million subscribers. This means each TIDAL user would have had to stream the album over eight times per day for the 10-day period. Similar statistics were also revealed for Lemonade, which was said to have been streamed 306 million times in the first 15 days of its release.

According to Dagens Næringsliv, once it started investigating, it uncovered documents in January 2017 which suggested TIDAL had deliberately been tampering with the figures.

The translation of the article by Music Business Worldwide states: “Beyoncé’s and Kanye West’s listener numbers on TIDAL have been manipulated to the tune of several hundred million false plays… which has generated massive royalty payouts at the expense of other artists.”

According to the report, Dagens Næringsliv also gained access to record company royalty payments revealing TIDAL paid Sony in excess of $4 million USD across April and May of 2016 for Lemonade. Similar figures were seen for The Life of Pablo, with €3.2 million allegedly paid to Universal.

Dagens Næringsliv has supported its story with findings from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, which states it has determined there had been a manipulation in data. In addition to this, the paper also reached out to several TIDAL users whose streaming logs were uncovered via hard drive it says it received.

One user, whose play count was said to be 180 plays in 24 hours for Lemonade stated the data “can’t be right.” A second user, music critic Geir Rakvaag, supposedly played tracks from The Life Of Pablo 96 times in one day, with 54 plays in the middle of the night. “It’s physically impossible,” he told the paper.

In a statement to Variety, TIDAL has shot down the report, stating it’s a “smear campaign.”

“This is a smear campaign from a publication that once referred to our employee as an ‘Israeli Intelligence officer’ and our owner as a ‘crack dealer.’ 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.” 

To read the full translated report by Music Business Worldwide, click here.


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