11.05.18

Tidal accused of faking streaming figures

tidal streaming service marketing with headphones

Streaming service Tidal has never shied from boasting about its streaming numbers – but its lofty claims may be transparent according to a new report calling the company out for falsifying figures.

If proved to be true, the Jay Z-owned company could be in trouble (even more so than originally thought at the close of 2017 when Tidal’s financial woes came to light).

Claims from the streaming company include publicising that it has 3 million subscribers and recorded a rather staggering 250 million streams of Kanye West's most recent album, ‘The Life of Pablo,’ in just 10 days, back in 2016. It then went on to boast that streams of Beyoncé’s Lemonade album surpassed 360 million streams in its first 15 days. Both of which – $2m out of $3.2m (Life of Pablo) and $2.5m out of $4m (Lemonade) – accounted for serious chunk of money paid to each artist’s respective record labels between the slated periods.

Independent research from Midia into Tidal’s customerbase later proved Tidal's actual subscriber numbers were a third of what was claimed, at approximately 1 million (as of the beginning of 2017).

Now the same publication that reported on its losses of over $40 million in 2016, Dagens Næringsliv, is suggesting that Tidal has been manipulating its listener numbers by hundreds of millions, in addition to exaggerating its subscriber numbers.

The Norwegian newspaper states that it is making "massive royalty payments” (conveniently, for none other than Jay Z’s wife, Beyoncé, and friend and long-term collaborator, Kanye West) “at the expense of other artists."

Music Business Worldwide hopped on the claim and translated it into English to explain it in greater detail. Its 73-page report states that Dagens Næringsliv worked with the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) to scrutinise the information contained on a hard drive of internal Tidal data the newspaper had acquired.

The NTNU stated that the digital intelligence methodologies included Tidal using actual user accounts to rack up duplicate streams (up to 150m) and repeating customers' own streams to increase plays. Team leader, Professor Katrin Franke, concludes that it is “highly likely the manipulation happened from within the streaming service itself.”

If proved accurate than the repercussions of this could be significant for Tidal. The streaming service has been quick to hit back at the claims by Dagens Næringsliv, however, stating: “each of these accusations is demonstrably false.”