Over the past several years, the Norwegian newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) and Vice have found evidence JAY-Z's streaming service TIDAL massively inflated the streams of at least Beyonce's Lemonade and Kanye West's The Life Of Pablo albums, which both began as TIDAL exclusive.
Since TIDAL pays their artists based on their percentage of TIDAL's total steams, the money that went to Beyonce and Kanye -- JAY-Z's wife and (at the time) close friend -- came directly out of the pocket of other artists. That makes the manipulation a potential crime.
Now we have word that Norwegian authorities (TIDAL was originally a Norwegian company) are looking into multiple criminal complaints of fraud against TIDAL.
The Norwegian economic and environmental crimes unit is known as ØOKOKRIM has confirmed a report by financial newspaper Dagens Næringsliv that it is investigating multiple allegations that some streaming numbers on Tidal had been manipulated.
ØOKOKRIM said it is looking into four complaints about the music streaming service's numbers, including from the collection society Tono, recording artist association GramArt and the indie label org Fono. "It has been made known through media coverage that the reviews relate to... a suspicion that someone has manipulated the number of plays of some songs," the authorities said, via translation.
TIDAL has responded to the criminal investigation.
Tidal is not a suspect in the investigation," a rep said in a statement. "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."