There is trouble in TIDAL paradise. The multimedia streaming service has come under fire recently for potentially doctoring the statistics related to the “success” of Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo and Beyonce’s Lemonade.
In March 2016, TIDAL claimed that Kanye’s The Life of Pablo had been streamed over 250 million times in just 10 days after an initial six-week exclusive distribution through the platform. These numbers would mean that, on average, every single subscriber would have been playing the album over eight times a day.
Provided to YouTube by Universal Music Group North America Father Stretch My Hands Pt.
When Beyonce dropped her impactful Lemonade album a couple of months after West, the streaming organization claimed the album was streamed more than 306 million times on its platform in its first 15 days post-release. This led Norwegian based newspaper Dagens Naeringsliv to investigate and in January 2017, they uncovered documents that suggested that TIDAL had been deliberately inflating its subscriber figures.
The report was further bolstered by data from trusted music industry statisticians, Midia, in the same month which estimated that TIDAL’s subscriber base is actually more like 1 million people worldwide. Since then Midia has upped its expose of the TIDAL brand with the accusation: “Beyonce’s and Kanye West’s listener numbers of 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.”
The newspaper investigation was further ignited by the receipt of a hard drive, which it says “contains billions of rows of internal TIDAL data, times, song titles, user ID’s and country codes.” Although TIDAL has contested the authenticity of the data on the hard drive, the numbers match exactly with information received by record labels during the dates in question.
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The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), one of Norway’s leading experts in data security and cybercrime prevention, produced a shocking report that stated amongst its finding’s that: “there has in fact been a manipulation of the TIDAL data at particular times. The manipulation appears targeted towards a very specific set of track IDs, related to two distinct albums.”
It sheds more light on why Jay-Z might have released his 4:44 album, yet again eschewing his previous retirement claims. Perhaps the streaming service needed the boost that a Jay-Z album inherently provides, but the realities of the streaming life are beginning to reveal the devil in the details of the music industry.