image: Tidal

image: Tidal

Following from a damning report that Tidal had “manipulated streaming numbers” for Beyoncé and Kanye West’s albums in order to allow “the stars [to receive] excessive royalty payouts,” a group of Norwegian songwriters, composers and music publishers filed a complaint against the music platform with Norwegian police, citing unjust enrichment by Kanye West and Beyoncé at the expense of the other artists whose music is available on Tidal.

The complaint – which was filed by Norway-based Tono, a collective of more than 30,000 Norwegian songwriters, composers, lyricists and music publishers – piggybacks on claims made by Norwegian financial publication Dagens Naeringsliv, including that Tidal might be on the hook for fraud due to the intentional “inflation of user play counts.”

Relying on analysis provided by the Norwegian Center for Cyber and Information Security, Dagens Naeringsliv asserted last week that Tidal – the subscription-based music streaming service that rapper Shawn Carter (aka Jay Z) bought in 2015 and operating in large part out of Oslo – intentionally boosted play counts for Kanye West and Beyoncé’s respective “The Life of Pablo” and “Lemonade” albums, which debuted exclusively on Tidal in 2016.

The streaming platform is said to have added “320 million false plays of [Kanye West and Beyoncé] songs … a manipulation which affected more than 1.7 million users.” 

Tono claims that the streaming manipulation claims are “strong” and “apparently credible.” Moreover, Tono director Cato Strom said in a statement on Monday, “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.”

Last week, Tidal’s lawyer Jordan Siev told Dagens Naeringsliv that it denies any manipulation and is adamant that the report is false. He further claimed that the data at issue, which Dagens Naeringsliv says consist of “billions of rows of [internal Tidal data],” was stolen from the company, which rarely shares its data publicly.