Tidal got ahead of authorities when it launched an internal investigation last May over falsified streaming numbers and has done the same with a response to Norway authorities jumping the fence with a criminal investigation.
While it was announced this week that the Norwegian Dagens Næringsliv (DN) newspaper was in talks with former employees about tampered data, the company has maintained their innocence. In 2018, it was reported the streaming service displayed nearly 1.3 million fake accounts believed to have lifted play counts Beyoncé’s Lemonade and Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo.
The accounts were presumed to have lifted these album’s play counts by 360 million streams. Since Tidal paid royalty fees to the artists, this the presumed error has created an issue with Tono, a Norwegian songwriters organization who has filed a police complaint with the media company.
According to DN, as of January 14, Norway’s National Authority for Investigation and Prosecution of Economic and Environmental Crime (Økokrim) have begun investigations on reports of data manipulation. The investigation is in its early stages but interrogations with four former members of the Tidal staff have been questioned, including the former head of business intelligence. All four employees left the company in 2016 after these employees allegedly noticed signs of meddling with these albums.
In a statement to The Verge, a representative from Tidal claims Økokrim’s investigation is more questionable than it appears.
“Tidal is not a suspect in the investigation. We are communicating with Økokrim. From the very beginning, DN has quoted documents that they have not shared with us in spite of repeated requests,” they said. “DN has repeatedly made claims based on information we believe may be falsified. We are aware that at least one person we suspected of theft has been questioned. We cannot comment further at this time.”
The company launched in March 2015 and has been experiencing issues with money after reports in 2017 indicated that the companies revenue well had run dry and their failer to pay royalty payments.