Sunday, October 2, 2022

TIDAL Accused of Falsifying Streams to Boost Beyonce and Kanye

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*An explosive new report by Norwegian newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (via Music Business Worldwide), accuses Tidal of faking the funk by intentionally falsifying streaming numbers for Beyonce’s “Lemonade” and Kanye West’s “Life of Pablo” albums and consequently paying inflated royalties to the artists’ labels, per Variety.

The paper has accused Tidal, which is primarily owned by Jay-Z, of inflating its subscriber numbers in the past, claims the company has denied

Tidal, which has rarely shared its data publicly, had a streaming exclusive on West’s album for its first six weeks of release and continues to be the exclusive streamer for Beyonce’s album.

Per Variety:

It claimed that West’s album had been streamed 250 million times in its first 10 days of release in February of 2016, while claiming it had just 3 million subscribers — a claim that would have meant every subscriber played the album an average of eight times per day; and that Beyonce’s album was dreamed 306 million times in its first 15 days of release in April of 2016.

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tidal sued

These claims led the Norwegian paper to investigate TIDAL’s numbers and report that it was intentionally inflating its subscriber count.

The most recent report, according to MBW’s translation, says that “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.” It bases this claim on data contained within a hard drive it obtained that “contains ‘billions of rows of [internal TIDAL data]: times and song titles, user IDs and country codes.”

Tidal has disputed the information on the hard drive, but the paper asserts that it matches information received by labels for the time period.

The paper supported its findings with data from NTNU – the Norwegian University of Science and Technology – which it says has “assembled some of Norway’s leading experts in data security and cybercrime prevention.”

Its report reads in part, “Using advanced statistical analysis of the data provided by DN, NTNU determined that there had in fact been a manipulation of the data at particular times due to the large presence of similar duplicate records occurring for a large percentage of the userbase that was active at any given time. In reviewing the data, in isolation from any other records or logs, it was not possible to determine the exact means of manipulation; however, the absence of records with unreadable data suggested it was not an external Structured Query Language Injection (SQLi) vector based attacked, but rather manipulation from within the streaming service itself.”

The report can be viewed here.

According to the paper, Tidal paid Beyonce’s label Sony more than $4 million for April and May of 2016, of which “Lemonade” accounted for $2.5 million; it also paid West’s label Universal 2 million for “Pablo.”

The paper says Tidal has denied “manipulating streaming figures or tampering with royalty payments,” adding that “The lawyers claim that NTNU’s report is based on false assumptions. TIDAL believes that the data the report is based on is stolen, incomplete for the relevant periods, that DN has changed the data and has lied to NTNU about the origin and content of the data.” 

Ny MaGee
Ny MaGee is an entertainment reporter with over 15 years of experience working in the film industry in areas including production and post-production, marketing, distribution, and acquisitions. She has worked for legendary film producer Roger Corman, Quentin Tarantino's production team at Miramax, the late Larry Flynt, MTV/ VH1, Hallmark Channel, Paramount, Jim Henson Co., Parade Magazine, and various LA-based companies representing above-the-line talent.

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