Jay-Z's Tidal platform under investigation for streaming fraud

Tidal, Jay-Z’s subscription-based streaming platform, is under investigation in Norway where allegations concerning artificial streaming numbers have surfaced.

Ongoing reports by a prominent Norwegian newspaper claim that the listening platform has inflated the streaming numbers of popular artists, like Jay-Z’s wife Beyonce and longtime friend Kanye West.

Following these reports, the Norwegian Authority for Investigation of Economic and Environmental Crime (Okokrim) is probing the music service. Representatives for other artists in the country accuse the streaming-scheme of impacting their incomes “from the manipulation of streaming data”.

“It has been made known through media coverage that the reports relate to Tidal’s streaming service and a suspicion that someone has manipulated the number of plays of some songs,” Okokrim Attorney Elisabeth Harbo-Lervik said through email.

Okokrim stated that the investigation has been activated to look into the allegations without providing further details.

One of Tidal’s lawyers based in Oslo said that the company has not been formally “suspected or charged”.

A spokeswoman for Tidal explained, “Tidal is not a suspect in the underlying investigation. We are communicating with Okokrim. We are aware that at least one person we suspected of theft has been questioned.”

In 2014, the “99 Problems” rapper purchased Tidal in a US$56 million deal in hopes of giving a fair playing field to his peers in the music industry. Jay-Z has long claimed that streaming services do not pay artists properly. Co-owners include other successful artists such as Rihanna and Alicia Keys.

Tidal’s competitors include industry giants Apple Music and Spotify, and the platform has failed to approach the kind of subscriber base that would be needed to oust these industry leaders. Sprint Corp. acquired a 33% stake in Tidal, according to BNN, after it was reported Tidal was discussing a potential deal with Apple.

After buying the streaming platform, Jay-Z accused one of the Norwegian sellers of “overstating subscriber numbers at the time of the deal.”