Research by the Norwegian newspaper Dagens Næringsliv has found some pretty convincing evidence that Tidal, the premium music streaming service owned by Jay-Z and a number of other artists, majorly manipulated the streaming numbers for Beyoncé’s Lemonade and Kanye West’s Life of Pablo albums (via TNW). Each album was offered as a time-limited exclusive on the service.
Dagens Næringsliv says Tidal added hundreds of millions of fake streams–320 million to be exact–to over 1.7 million user logs to give each album’s streaming numbers a boost. Tidal originally claimed its exclusive on West’s Life of Pablo album was streamed 250 million times in 10 days and its exclusive on Beyoncé’s Lemonade album had been streamed over 300 million times in just 15 days.
But upon examining Tidal’s data, Dagens Næringsliv found that Life of Pablo streaming logs followed a particular pattern, with extra streams of the album for each user being added at 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. local time–and that all of the albums 20 songs were listed as being played multiple times at the same time.
As for Lemonade, the manipulation was harder to pinpoint, but data shows that the album’s additional streaming patterns across user logs match down to the same millisecond. Some Tidal users even told Dagens Næringsliv that their streaming logs showed they listened to Lemonade 11 hours a day, which they deny.
Dagens Næringsliv says the data shows that the added streams were too specific and targeted to be the result of a bug, suggesting it was purposeful manipulation.
Update: A Tidal spokesperson has reached out with the following comment about the allegations:
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.”
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.