Artists Pull Music off TIDAL and Consider Lawsuits in Wake of Fake Streams

We just got word that a giant conglomerate of Norwegian songwriters, composers, and music publishers named Tono have filed an official complaint against TIDAL, Jay-Z’s music streaming company. The decision to do so came after a report from Norwegian newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) who recently published an inflammatory article about the service artificially manipulating streaming numbers for Beyoncé and Kanye West’s catalogs, resulting in hefty royalty payouts for them. Dagens came to this conclusion after a two-year long investigation working alongside Norwegian University of Science and Technology’s Center for Cyber and Information Security (CCIS).

In the aforementioned report, CCIS found that TIDAL had artificially created 320 million listening sessions by manipulating real user accounts to add streaming plays to Beyonce and Kanye’s music. Dagens Næringsliv interviewed a pool of subscribers, each were presented with their individual streaming logs and were astonished and baffled by the data.

The organization stated that the streaming manipulation claims against TIDAL were “strong” and “apparently credible.”

In a statement, the PRO said, “We have to protect the interests of the rights holders for whom we work, but we also believe that a complaint is in the interest of TIDAL which says the data has been stolen and manipulated.”

TIDAL has fought against the claims.

“This is a smear campaign from a publication that once referred to our employee as an ‘Israeli intelligence officer’ and our owner as a ‘crack dealer.’ We expect nothing less from them than this ridiculous story, lies, and falsehoods. The information was stolen and manipulated and we will fight these claims vigorously.”

TIDAL’s lawyer Jordan W. Seiv’s rebuttal sunk them deeper:

“DN exhibits complete lack of understanding of the data.”

By stating this he confirmed that the stolen hard drive used as evidence containing TIDAL’s total stream counts is real but he didn’t at any point deny the ‘manipulated data’ claims against the company. In a related report, DN found that TIDAL had also dropped royalty payouts to labels from 62.5% to 55%. This action results in artists receiving much less royalties without any proper heads-up or warning.

To add insult to injury, TIDAL hasn’t spoken directly to Tono or any other collecting society for that matter since the reports came to light.  Cato Strøm, Tono’s Director, said that he has tried to get in touch with TIDAL to address his artists’ concerns.

He also stated many musicians have started removing their music from the service. TIDAL’s failure to address the issue has also struck a chord with collecting societies in other countries. According to Billboard, several music organizations are currently contemplating also filing complaints against TIDAL. Koda, Tono’s sister collection organization in Denmark has demanded an audit of TIDAL’s numbers.

We will see how this all plays out but, it’s not looking to good for our friends at TIDAL.