It looks like Beyonce's Lemonade and Kanye West's The Life Of Pablo were nowhere near the hits JAY-Z's TIDAL streaming service claimed they were.
Norwegian newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (TIDAL was originally a Norwegian company) reports that TIDAL massively falsified streaming numbers for the two albums. In doing so, they not only gave the artists chart positions that they didn't deserve, but they fraudulent boosted their royalties.
“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," reads a translation of the Dagens Næringsliv article.
TIDAL's reporting of the streaming numbers for The Life Of Pablo and Lemonade -- which both began as TIDAL streaming exclusives --has come under scrutiny before.
The streaming service had claimed that TLOP was streamed 250 million times in its first 10 days of release in February 2016. At the time, TIDAL claimed three million total subscribers, with independent analysts putting that number closer to one million. Even using TIDAL's subscription numbers, that would have meant every subscriber played TLOP an average of eight times per day.
They also claimed Lemonade was streamed 306 million times in its first 15 days of release in April 2016.
In their latest report, Dagens Næringsliv came to their conclusion about the false plays after getting hold of a TIDAL hard drive.
“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. Due to the targeted nature and extent of the manipulation, it is very unlikely that this manipulation was solely the result of a code based bug or other system anomaly. The following analysis shows in detail why this conclusion is the most likely conclusion and further, the nature and extent it is suspected that the manipulation has affected the accuracy of the data … The manipulation appears targeted towards a very specific set of track IDs, related to two distinct albums,” “Pablo” and “Lemonade.”
TIDAL struck back at the report in a statement to Variety.
“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.”
What do you think?
If you can read Norwegian, you can view the full report here.