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News May 10, 2018

TIDAL refutes claims it massively inflated Kanye West and Beyoncé streaming numbers

Former Assistant Editor
TIDAL refutes claims it massively inflated Kanye West and Beyoncé streaming numbers

Jay-Z-headed streaming platform TIDAL is facing new accusations of faking its streaming numbers for albums by Kanye West and Beyoncé in the vicinity of several hundred million streams.

The latest accusation by Norway’s Dagens Næringsliv (via MBW) comes after more than a year of digging, and the publication claims not only that millions of plays on the embattled platform were falsely generated, but outlines the resulting huge royalty payouts that have come at the expense of other artists.

TIDAL has categorically refuted the latest claims, calling DN’s investigation a “smear campaign” based on stolen data.

Suspicions of dodgy business by TIDAL first surfaced in March 2016 when the business claimed that Kanye West’s The Life Of Pablo had been streamed 250 million times in its first 10 days.

Reported streaming numbers behind Beyoncé’s Lemonade when it was released on the platform (306 million streams in 15 days) also caused suspicion.

At that time, TIDAL claimed to have 3 million subscribers – which meant that West’s album would have had been played in full more than eight times a day by each subscriber.

TIDAL were also found to have falsely inflated their subscriber figures as well, with MIDiA research finding that the figure was closer to 1 million.

Now, DN‘s latest investigation, fuelled by the receipt of a hard drive containing billions of rows of internal TIDAL data that confirms streaming numbers received by record labels during the dates in question.

“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’,” a representative for TIDAL told Billboard.

“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 deep dive into TIDAL sees DN interview several subscribers of the service, and present them with the official logs of their individual play-counts for The Life Of Pablo and Lemonade.

One subscriber was shown that she’s listened to Lemonade 180 times within 24 hours, and another supposedly had streamed The Life Of Pablo tracks 96 times in a single day including 54 plays in the middle of the night.

The subscribers interviewed dismissed the figures as “physically impossible” and “nonsense”.

In collaboration with the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, DN put together a report that found “various methods” were used to inflate plays on West and Beyoncé’s records.

“We have through advanced statistical analysis determined that there has in fact been a manipulation of the [TIDAL] data at particular times,” the report states.

“The manipulation appears targeted towards a very specific set of track IDs, related to two distinct albums.”

The full report is available here.


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