Tidal allegedly inflated numbers for two app-exclusive albums.
The Norwegian Supreme Court Appeals Committee has approved a formal investigation of the streaming service TIDAL. The investigation began back in 2018. That spring, the Norwegian financial trade Dagens Næringsliv accused TIDAL of inflating its subscriber numbers.
The investigation led Norway’s equivalent of the FBI to launch a probe in June 2019. In the first investigation, a Scandinavian newspaper obtained access to TIDAL’s hard drive. The publication reported that the platform inflated listening statistics for Beyoncé’s Lemonade and Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo.
The report claims Beyonce’s and Kanye West’s listener numbers on the app benefitted “to the tune of several hundred million false plays.” In turn, the numbers generated massive royalty payouts at the expense of other artists. In 2018, a TIDAL rep responded to Variety with a fiery statement.
“This is a smear campaign,” the statement reads, “from a publication that once referred to our employee as an ‘Israeli intelligence officer’ and our owner as a ‘crack dealer.’ I expect nothing less from them than this ridiculous story, lies and falsehoods.” The representative claims their information was stolen, and announced their plans to fight the case.
Since the platform determines its royalties based on play-counts, the inflation affected other artists using the platform. TIDAL owns exclusive rights to both Lemonade and The Life of Pablo.
Last August, the Oslo-founded platform threatened legal action against the Norwegian government. TIDAL’s legal representatives declined to comment on the investigation.