Tidal falsified streaming numbers for Beyoncé, Kanye: Report

Tidal, the subscription-based music service owned primarily by Jay-Z, has been accused of falsifying streaming numbers for Kanye West’s “The Life of Pablo” and Beyoncé’s “Lemonade.”

The allegations come courtesy of Norwegian newspaper Dagens Næringsliv, which claims the number of listeners for both albums has been, according to a translation by Music Business Worldwide, “manipulated to the tune of several hundred million false plays … which has generated massive royalty payouts at the expense of other artists.”

The report is based on information taken by a hard drive obtained by the newspaper, which it claims contains billions of rows of Tidal data including user IDs, country codes and song titles and times.

The paper sought the hard drive as part of an investigation into Tidal’s publicized numbers for “The Life of Pablo” and “Lemonade”; the streaming service had said in the past that West’s album was streamed 250 million times 10 days after release and that Beyoncé’s release — which is still exclusive to Tidal — was streamed 306 million times in its first 15 days.

The paper took its findings to the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, which, according to the report, “determined that there had in fact been a manipulation of the data at particular times.”

For its part, Tidal is strongly denying the claims.

“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,’” the service said in a statement to Variety, referencing a previous Dagens Næringsliv article. “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.”