Music streaming is massive business nowadays – with rumors abound that Apple may be set to tie up their landmark iTunes platform to focus on their Apple Music streaming services, it’s clear that we have already come a long, long way from MP3 players and the likes of Napster. There will always be those among us who love to collect physical music – but the dominance of services such as Spotify, Deezer and Pandora are undeniable – as listeners find paying a monthly fee for the vast majority of popular music on the planet extremely tempting. Some artists, however, have remained exclusive to certain platforms – Taylor Swift famously removed herself from Spotify for business reasons in recent months, and Peter Gabriel has only just announced his intentions to release his most popular music to the leading network – but for exclusive music, it seemed that Jay Z’s Tidal platform looked like being the way forward. However, years on since its inception, it’s perhaps not performing quite as well as its investors may have hoped.
Tidal is thought to be in around fifth or sixth place in terms of worldwide streaming, and recent allegations mounted by Dagens Naeringsliv, a Norwegian newspaper, seem to have hammered a further nail into the service’s coffin – though it is far from dead yet, despite only hosting a fraction of users that enjoy other streaming standards. The newspaper in question has raised concerns that the platform has intentionally fabricated the figures for how many times certain albums have been streamed – with streaming of Beyoncé and Kanye West coming under scrutiny. Dagens Naeringsliv claims to have proof that streaming data claimed for Beyoncé’s album Lemonade and for West’s The Life of Pablo is fabricated – and that users alleged to have (if figures are to be believed) played such music through the night have never even listened to such artists. It’s being claimed that Tidal have set up genuine accounts to play tracks from West’s album in particular without their permission – and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology reportedly has data from Tidal to prove it.
Tidal has, of course, denied such claims – stating that the claims made by the newspaper are a ‘smear campaign’ and that ‘the information was stolen and manipulated’. However, it’s not clear as to why a University would choose to fabricate such claims. In any case – does this put streaming data – and security – under scrutiny? What will this mean for Tidal long term? Let’s wait and see.