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Norwegian collecting society reports Tidal to police over Kanye and Beyonce stat allegations

By | Published on Tuesday 15 May 2018


So this is getting interesting fast. The Norwegian collecting society Tono has filed an official police complaint against Tidal over those allegations published in Dagens Næringsliv last week. The Norwegian business newspaper alleged that Tidal skewed the streaming stats in relation to Kanye West’s ‘Life Of Pablo’ and Beyonce’s ‘Lemonade’, two records with which it enjoyed exclusives.

Following chatter to the effect that the official number of plays for those albums in the weeks after release seemed very high, given the size of Tidal’s userbase, DN got its hands on some internal data from the streaming company.

It says that when it approached certain Tidal subscribers – who this database said had streamed the Kanye or Beyonce albums an awful lot – at least some of those subscribers denied having listened to these records anything like the number of times the official figures said. The journalists then had some academics scrutinise the data. Said academics concluded it had been tampered with.

Tidal strongly denies any fiddling of the figures. However, if the plays for any one record on a steaming service were artificially increased, because of the way streaming royalties are calculated (revenue share based on consumption share), that would not only mean those artists being overpaid, but other artists and songwriters could be underpaid too.

This is why Tono is keen to assess the credibility of the allegations, given its members could have lost out if any stat fiddling had indeed gone on. The society has reported Tidal to the Norwegian National Authority For Investigation And Prosecution Of Economic And Environmental Crime, urging it to investigate.

According to another Norwegian news provider, the country’s version of The Local, Tono says that last week’s claims are “strong” and “apparently credible”, but also notes Tidal’s counter allegation that it was DN journalists who actually manipulated its data. Tono director Cato Strom said in a statement: “We have to protect the interests of the rightsholders for whom we work, but we also believe that a complaint is in the interest of Tidal which says the data has been stolen and manipulated”.

Danish collecting society Koda is also known to be investigating last week’s reports, starting with an audit of the data it received from Tidal. It’s thought that other European societies or rights owners could follow suit.

Responding to DN’s report last week, Tidal said: “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”.