You already know music streaming is worth billions of dollars. Spotify, Apple and Pandora are big names, but did you know about TIDAL? Owned by Jay Z, TIDAL claims that Kanye West’s The Life Of Pablo was streamed by its customers 250 million times in just ten days and Beyoncé’s Lemonade 306 million times in its first 15 days.
As TIDAL claims only 3 million subscribers, this raised the eyebrows of some skeptics.
The investigation began when Norwegian newspaper Dagens Næringsliv obtained a TIDAL hard drive. When they matched listening figures with subscribers, they concluded “TIDAL’s listener numbers had been manipulated to the tune of several hundred million false plays.” TIDAL’s data showed one subscriber played Kanye West’s The Life Of Pablo 96 times in a single day. Another played Beyoncé’s Lemonade 180 times within 24 hours. And so on.
That seems like a lot, so let’s do a simple check.
There are 1,440 minutes in a 24-hour day. Lemonade is 45 minutes long. Streamed continuously for 24 hours, it could be played only 32 times – not 180. At 66 minutes long, The Life of Pablo could be played only 22 times – not 96.
The Center for Cyber and Information Security is a partnership with 26 private and public members from industry, academia, privacy, and security.
The CCIS forensically investigated the data and said “After thorough advanced statistical analysis we have determined that there has in fact been a manipulation of TIDAL data. Professor Katrin Franke said millions of users supposedly listened to a large number of tracks at exactly the same millisecond. “Given how targeted and comprehensive the manipulation is, it is highly improbable these distortions could be the result of a code-based bug or other anomaly,” said the investigators. “There is also nothing to indicate a data breach from the outside.”
The pot calling the kettle black?
TIDAL was strongly denying they had manipulated streaming figures or tampered with royalty payments at the same time their legal team was attempting to shut down the study, claiming investigators falsified the data to suit their foregone conclusions.
No big deal, you say, but billions of dollars of royalty payouts are calculated from listener figures.