Music streaming site Tidal has been accused of intentionally falsifying streaming numbers for Beyonce’s Lemonade and Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo albums and thus paying inflated royalties.
Norwegian newspaper Dagens Naeringsliv has accused Tidal, which is primarily owned by Beyonce’s husband 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.
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 streamed 306 million times in its first 15 days of release in April 2016.
These claims led the Norwegian paper to investigate the service’s numbers and report that it was intentionally inflating its subscriber count, a report supported by research from British firm Midia, which estimated that Tidal’s total number of subscribers was closer to 1 million globally.
Wednesday’s report, according to Music Business Worldwide’s translation, was based on data contained within a hard drive the paper obtained that “contains ‘billions of rows of … times and song titles, user IDs and country codes.”
Tidal has disputed the information, but the paper asserts that it matches information received by labels for the time period.
Beyonce’s label Sony were paid more than $4 million for April and May of 2016, with Lemonade accounting for more than 60 per cent of that, while West’s label Universal received 3.2 million euros with a similar percentage for The Life of Pablo.
“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 Tidal statement read.
“We expect nothing less from them … The information was stolen and manipulated and we will fight these claims vigorously.”