Music streaming service Tidal is under criminal investigation for allegedly faking streams

William Gayde

Posts: 381   +5
Staff member

Tidal, the high-quality music streaming service owned by Jay-Z, is under criminal investigation in Norway. This case stems from a report back in mid-2018 that shows Tidal artificially inflating streaming numbers for Kanye West's The Life of Pablo album and Beyoncé's Lemonade album.

The initial investigation was done by Norwegian newspaper Dagens Næringsliv and revealed some surprising findings. They allege that streams of the two albums in question were inflated by several hundred million plays to help boost royalty payments to the two artists.

The newspaper discovered the irregularities after they received a hard drive containing streaming data for the two albums. It showed numerous occasions where users supposedly listened to Beyoncé's album 180 times in a single day even though that would take 144 hours. Analysis of the data also showed cases where Tidal allegedly accessed user accounts to play tracks from The Life of Pablo in the middle of the night. There were over 150 million plays that all started at the exact same time, down to the millisecond, at 2 a.m. and 5 a.m.

As a result of these irregularities, Norway's economic crimes division, Økokrim, has begun an investigation. So far, they have interrogated four former employees in front of a judge. Three of them recognized signs of the data manipulation and contacted a lawyer before bringing up the concerns with management. These three resigned back in 2016 after signing a confidentiality contract.

Tidal has stated that they did not boost the streams in question and that the hard drive was actually stolen and manipulated to frame them. They released the following statement: "Tidal is at this time not a suspect nor has there been filed charges. We have an ongoing dialogue with Økokrim. It would not be right to share the contents of this discussion with the press."

This is not Tidal's first allegation of wrongdoing. They have previously been accused of faking subscriber numbers and failing to pay royalties to artists.

Update: After publishing, Tidal has since issued the following statement to Techspot.

“Tidal is not a suspect in the investigation. We are communicating with Økokrim. From the very beginning, DN has quoted documents that they have not shared with us in spite of repeated requests. DN has repeatedly made claims based on information we believe may be falsified. We are aware that at least one person we suspected of theft has been questioned. We cannot comment further at this time and refer to our previous statement, which still stands.”

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VitalyT

Posts: 6,032   +6,400
Fake online ratings, in the Internet, the last refuge for pristine honesty...? I don't believe it!
 
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kombu

Posts: 103   +202
Fake online ratings, in the Internet, the last refuge for pristine honesty...? I don't believe it!
Good take, bro, but I think we can take it even a little further: The CEO is an ex drug dealer who didn't just get away scot free but is still bragging about it...? I don't believe it!
 

Uncle Al

Posts: 8,362   +7,166
You know it had to happen .... just too easy to make that money by bending the rules .....
 

texasrattler

Posts: 1,228   +577
So Kanye left at some point and after he is gone, his record had more downloads/streams which in turn made him more money. Makes a little sense since supposedly Tidal owned him money.

I actually don't know anyone who actually uses Tidal. Every person ive ever asked all say they have Spotify, Pandora or Google music. No one has ever said they use Tidal.
 

Vrmithrax

Posts: 1,591   +651
Have to also wonder - do those streaming hits count towards anything beyond the royalty moneys, like some industry awards? Doesn't MTV or one of those awards shows have a category that counts streaming play as part of their tally now?
 

Fearghast

Posts: 452   +357
So Kanye left at some point and after he is gone, his record had more downloads/streams which in turn made him more money. Makes a little sense since supposedly Tidal owned him money.

I actually don't know anyone who actually uses Tidal. Every person ive ever asked all say they have Spotify, Pandora or Google music. No one has ever said they use Tidal.
I use Tidal, Google Music and even have shared Spotifi with my brother :D
Tidal sound quality is really nice, app and indexation is pretty trash thou.