In March 2016, the firm claimed that Kanye West’s The Life Of Pablo, a six-week exclusive on its platform, had been streamed 250m times in just 10 days.
At the same time, TIDAL claimed that its platform had surpassed 3m subscribers.
These numbers meant that, on average, every single TIDAL subscriber would have had to be playing the Kanye album over eight times a day.
Similar suspicions were triggered by the success of Beyonce’s record-breaking Lemonade a couple of months later.
TIDAL claimed that Lemonade was streamed 306m times on its platform in its first 15 days post-release.
Stats like this led Norwegian newspaper Dagens Næringsliv to investigate in January 2017 – and uncover documents which, it said, suggested that TIDAL had been deliberately inflating its subscriber figures.
This report was lend credence by data from trusted music industry research firm Midia in the same month, which estimated that TIDAL’s subscriber base actually only included 1m people worldwide.
Now, DN has run an update – following more than a year of journalistic digging. And it’s an absolute jaw-dropper.
Its central accusation: ‘Beyoncé’s and Kanye West’s listener numbers on 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’s investigation was ignited by its receipt of an illicit hard drive, which it says ‘contains ‘billions of rows of [internal TIDAL data]: times and song titles, user IDs and country codes’.
The veracity of the data on this hard drive has been strongly challenged by TIDAL, but according to DN, the numbers match exactly with information received by record labels during the dates in question.
(Says DN: ‘In the Life of Pablo month, February 2016, TIDAL customers supposedly listened to a total of 758,745,952 songs, according to the numbers on the hard drive. In the record company’s payment reports, the total is [also] 758,745,952 songs.’)
Suffice to say, the information contained on the drive has landed TIDAL in seriously hot water.