Tidal has hit back at allegations that the streaming service manipulated listener data for major releases by Beyonce and Kanye West.
Following each of the exclusive album releases, Tidal had claimed West’s The Life Of Pablo was streamed 250 million times in its first 10 days, while Beyonce’s Lemonade was streamed 306 million in 15 days.
Norwegian newspaper Dagens Næringsliv claimed yesterday (May 9) that data shows play counts for both records "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 backed up its claims by commissioning a report from researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. Based on hard drive data, the researchers said play counts had been inflated.
“The manipulation appears targeted towards a very specific set of track IDs, related to two distinct albums,” said the report.
However, Tidal has responded to Music Week’s request for comment with a robust statement that suggests it will take further action.
“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’,” said Tidal in a statement. “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.”
If there were any truth in the allegations, the full implications for past chart performance are not yet clear. Billboard reports that in the US Tidal did not report streaming numbers for Pablo to Nielsen Music for two months. The album did make No.1 when it became available on other platforms.
Lemonade was additionally available in physical format and charted in the US at No.1 in the week of release in April 2016.