Prosecutors in Norway have said today (January 14) that they have launched the enquiry, after Norwegian financial newspaper Dagens Naeringsliv (DN) stated Tidal had lied about the number of streams achieved by Beyoncé’s album ‘Lemonade’ and Kanye’s album ‘The Life Of Pablo’.
DN said in May 2018 that Tidal had massaged the figures of those and other albums, lying by “hundreds of millions” about the amount of streams ‘The Life Of Pablo’ and ‘Lemonade’ had accrued.
As reported by Music Business Worldwide, as a result of DN’s claims, Norway’s songwriting royalties collection organisation Tono claims it has filed an official police complaint against Tidal.
Norweigan prosecuting body Okokrim today also confirmed it had launched an investigation.
But Tidal has denied they are being investigated and issued a statement this evening saying the claims are false.
The statement said: “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 and refer to our previous statement, which still stands.”
Okokrim’s chief public prosecutor Elisabeth Harbo-Lervik said their investigation had actually begun last autumn, adding: “Enquiries are at an early stage.”
In its intial report, DN had said: “Beyoncé and Kanye West’s listener numbers on Tidal have been manipulated by several hundred million false plays. This has generated massive royalty payments at the expense of other artists.”
Tidal CEO Richard Sanders previously said the company rejected DN’s claims. Tidal then launched an internal investigation into a potential data breach, undertaken by a cyber security company. The investigation, which began last June, has yet to report its findings.
Harbo-Lervik told DN: “Tidal has previously stated it considers itself insulted by DN’s allegations. It should have a vested interest in getting information on the table that would tell us anything about a possible manipulation. We’re still waiting for them to offer this information.”
Tidal’s owners Project Panther Bidco’s most recent annual accounts showed an annual revenue of $116.8m (£89.8m) in 2017, an increase of 13%.
According to DN, Okokrim have so far spoken to four or more current and former Tidal employees. The newspaper states that three of those quizzed are former Tidal employees who left at the same time in 2016. They allegedly became concerned at the manipulation of figures of ‘Lemonade’ and ‘The Life Of Pablo’. All three have signed confidentiality agreements to stop them speaking out, according to DN.
Tidal was launched in 2014 by a number of musicians, including Jay-Z, Beyoncé, Kanye West, Rihanna, Madonna, Arcade Fire, Daft Punk, Jack White and Deadmau5. It aimed to give artists a greater royalty share from streaming, after Spotify and Apple Music had been accused of keeping too high a proportion of revenue from streaming figures. Tidal also aimed to have better audio quality.