- Jay-Z‘s music service Tidal has been accused of wildly inflating streaming numbers for Beyoncé and Kanye West albums.
- The claims were made by a Norwegian newspaper Dagens Næringsliv, which got hold of a Tidal hard drive containing a treasure trove of user data.
- Dagens Næringsliv interrogated the data over the course of a year, including working with a Norwegian university, which concluded that streams had been “manipulated.”
- Tidal strongly refuted the “smear campaign” and said the data was stolen.
Jay-Z’s music service Tidal has said accusations that it inflated the streaming stats of Beyoncé and Kanye West are a “smear campaign.”
Norwegian newspaper Dagens Næringsliv made the claims, which were picked up by Music Business Worldwide, after an investigation that lasted more than a year.
Dagens Næringsliv’s central allegation is that the streaming numbers reported by Tidal for Beyoncé’s “Lemonade” and West’s “The Life Of Pablo” were overstated.
Tidal had both albums for an exclusive window in 2016 and said they racked up 306 million and 205 million streams respectively within 15 days of being released.
But Dagens Næringsliv said: “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.”
Dagens Næringsliv secured access to Tidal data after receiving a hard drive containing a treasure trove of streaming information. So detailed was the data, that the newspaper was able to identify individual users, access their streaming stats, and then cross-reference them with their actual experience through a series of interviews.
US-based law student Tiare Faatea, for example, supposedly played tracks from Beyoncé’s “Lemonade” 180 times within 24 hours. “That can’t be right,” she told Dagens Næringsliv.
Furthermore, the newspaper worked with the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NUST) to investigate the Tidal data, with the academics concluding that there had been “manipulation.”You can read the full NUST study here.
Dagens Næringsliv also checked that the numbers contained on the hard drive stacked up with those Tidal reported to record labels – which they did.
Tidal is yet to respond to Business Insider’s request for comment, but it strongly refuted the accusations set out by Dagens Næringsliv. In a statement to Variety, it said:
“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.”
The “Israeli Intelligence officer” quote was a reference to Tidal COO executive Lior Tibon, while the crack dealer moniker was given to Jay-Z. Both of these claims, reported in a past Dagens Næringsliv article, were true but are decades old. Jay-Z has repeatedly been transparent about his past as a drug dealer.
It is not the first time Dagens Næringsliv has accused Tidal of inflating its stats. In January last year, it said Tidal had over-reported its subscriber numbers on at least two occasions.
Beyoncé is the wife of Tidal owner Jay-Z, while and the rapper has also collaborated with Kanye West in the past.
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