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Tidal Accused Of Inflating Stream Numbers For Beyoncé And Kanye West

TIDAL is in the news again, and it is not a good thing. Last year, there were some articles about the Norwegian newspaper Dagens Næringsliv which was accusing the streaming service to fraudulently inflating its number of subscribers, but it seems that this time the streaming service was caught cheating in another manner.

A very recent article published by NPR reports about a lengthy investigation by this same Norwegian newspaper: Tidal, which has been owned by Jay Z since 2015, has been accused of artificially inflating the play counts of Beyoncé and Kanye West’s albums.

For example, they found this evidence of the inflation: according to the numbers certain users should have streamed the two albums a surprising amount, something like 15 times a day for ‘Lemonade’…

Furthermore, when Tidal claimed that ‘The Life of Pablo’ was streamed 250 million times in the first 10 days, it is easy to do the calculation: Each one of the  3 million subscribers of Tidal should have played the record 83 times in the 10 days it was available…. Which is a lot of Kanye.

As a result, the paper accuses Tidal of fabricating 320 million ‘false’ streams. This obviously has consequences, not only it inflates revenues for the most successful artists, but it gave to Kanye and Beyoncé an outsized portion of the service’s revenues.

Tidal’s response was epic, of course denying all accusations:’ 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 trouble for Tidal is that the Norwegian University of Science and Technology also looked at the data and found that there was a manipulation of the data affecting over 90% of the users, and regarding 2 distinct albums.

Revenue from streaming music represented 38 % of the $9.4 billion global music market last year, while the total revenue from streaming increased by 41 percent by the end of 2017, so this is a lot of money. Thus, it is possible for TIDAL executives to be sued for causes of action such as collusion and/or fraud. Of course Jay Z is Beyonce’s husband, so the story sounds like something coming from our current administration, and this data manipulation sure doesn’t make them look good despite the queen Bey’s triumphant set at Coachella.

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