Published Jan 14, 2019Last year, streaming service Tidal was accused of deliberately boosting streaming numbers for albums by Beyoncé and Kanye West. Now, Norwegian authorities have confirmed an official investigation has been launched over the claims.
As Norwegian newspaper Dagens Næringsliv reports, the country's National Authority for Investigation and Prosecution of Economic and Environmental Crime (ØKOKRIM) began the investigation last fall, looking into four complaints about the numbers from four Norwegian music industry organizations. News of the investigation was confirmed by ØKOKRIM today.
In May of last year, DN reported that Tidal had manipulated its play counts for Beyoncé's Lemonade and West's The Life of Pablo by hundreds of millions of plays. At the time, the streaming service denied the allegations, calling the report "a smear campaign" and vowing to "fight these claims vigorously."
DN's investigative report was based on data given to the paper anonymously on a hard drive, which reportedly contained "billions of rows of [internal TIDAL data]: times and song titles, user IDs and country codes." Tidal disputed the veracity of information found on the drive upon the report's publication.
In a statement today, Tidal acknowledged the involvement of ØKOKRIM but denied being a "suspect" in the investigation. The streaming service also acknowledged past issues with DN's reporting.
The statement from a Tidal representative is as follows [via Billboard]:
Tidal is not a suspect in the investigation. We are communicating with ØKOKRIM From the very beginning, DN has quoted documents that they have not shared with us in spite of repeated requests. DN has repeatedly made claims based on information we believe may be falsified. We are aware that at least one person we suspected of theft has been questioned. We cannot comment further at this time.
In January 2017, DN alleged that Tidal was inflating the number of users subscribed the service. In December of that same year, DN also reported that Tidal had lost $44 million USD before taxes in 2016.
A spokesperson for the service responded, "We have experienced negative stories about Tidal since its inception and we have done nothing but grow the business each year."