The streaming platform Tidal, whose most public owner and champion is rapper and entrepreneur Jay-Z, is facing heavy criticism and possible legal action from several Scandinavian artist organizations and other entities after a Norwegian business newspaper alleged last week that the company had faked hundreds of millions of plays on Beyoncé's Lemonade and Kanye West's The Life of Pablo.
That paper, Dagens Naeringsliv (DN), published its original findings on May 9. DN says it was surreptitiously given hard drive that contained internal Tidal play data, and worked with researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology who analyzed the hard drive logs.
A lawyer for Tidal named Jordan W. Siev told the Norwegian paper that he believes the data was stolen, and that "DN exhibits complete lack of understanding of the data." Moreover, Tidal denies that any play data has been manipulated, or that any royalty structures have changed.
On Monday, a team of DN journalists published a trio of follow-up stories. In one of those reports, DN purports to show that in the past year, Tidal has lowered payments to labels from 62.5 percent to 55 percent, without renegotiating terms. (The company has, since launching, billed itself as the streaming platform that pays the most to creators; DN says that a 55 percent payout puts Tidal on equal footing with Spotify and Apple Music's terms.) Daniel Nordgård, the chair of GramArt, the Norwegian musicians' association, called the situation "a complete breach of trust."
Tidal is co-owned by a consortium of high-powered recording artists, including the two artists whose streaming plays were allegedly manipulated — Jay-Z's wife, Beyoncé, and Kanye West — as well as Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, Daft Punk, Jack White, Arcade Fire and others; in early 2017, Sprint bought a 33 percent stake in the company for $200 million.