Jay-Z’s Tidal Music is Accused of Millions in Fraudulent Album Streams & Royalty Payouts for Beyonce & Kanye
Beyonce is arguably the largest female brand in the music industry right now… and so much so she gets to have her album played solely on her husband’s streaming service. But do you know what her industry clout does NOT get her? The right to inflate those numbers for the sake of getting more royalties just because you’re sleeping with the owner doesn’t exist… and that is exactly what Jay-Z, part owner of Tidal is currently being accused of doing. In 2016, Tidal had some beyond impressive streaming figures. They were bragging about a whopping 300 million streams for Kanye’s The Life of Pablo album and 250 million streams for Beyonce’s Lemonade, both in their first 15 days… all while having only 3 million subscribers. That would be impressive even for Spotify and they have 170 million users.
This investigation came courtesy of a Norwegian newspaper whose name is translated as Music Business Worldwide. By their estimation, every single user would have to listen to the albums a total of 8 times a day or a total of 83 times for the numbers to make sense. In fact, one user who was interviewed about their findings of her streaming Beyonce’s Lemonade a whopping 15 times in a day. Her response? “I love Beyoncé — but 11 hours? No.” Data given to the Norwegian University of Science and Technology found patterns of data manipulation. a report showed “there has in fact been a manipulation of the data at particular times. The manipulation appears targeted towards a very specific set of track IDs, related to two distinct albums.” The school’s investigators revealed it was done so in a way that is “hard to detect.” In an email to NPR News, NTNU stated that while the data had been manipulated, they “cannot, based on the data provided to us, determine the source of the manipulation.”
“It speaks to the broader industry-wide issue with streaming — when it’s dependent on data, its vulnerable to fraud or accusations of fraud,” Kevin Erickson, a director of artist advocacy group the Future of Music Coalition, tells NPR. “When we’re shifting towards an economy where the allocation of revenue is dependent on the quality of the data, this incredible volume of data, at the same time that individualized data is a commodity — listener data for advertising, for example — it incentivizes bad behavior.”
This year, a group of Bulgarians found a way to manipulate Spotify’s payout system in a legal way to get hundreds of thousands out of it. In this case with Jay-Z, he got his artists millions from what appears to be a fraudulent manner. There stands a good chance that Jay-Z is going to be made an example of as one of the first big names of label bosses inventing new ways to cheat the industry. His response?
Tidal made a public statement saying “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.”
Even with the name calling from the newspaper, that doesn’t take away from what occurred here and we’re going to see what gets revealed about Tidal in the process of it all.
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