Jay-Z's music streaming app Tidal has been accused of inflating the number of listens racked up by Beyoncé and Kanye West, but the company is firing back at the Norwegian magazine that reported the charges.
In 2016, the music service Tidal had reported some eye-popping stream counts for Beyoncé's album "Lemonade" and West's "The Life of Pablo." In its first 15 days, "Lemonade" generated 300 million streams, and West's album got 250 million streams in 10 days.
Those are numbers impressive even on Spotify, the No. 1 music app with 170 million monthly active users. (Tidal claims to have 3 million monthly subscribers.) Last year, Taylor Swift debuted her single "Look What You Made Me Do" on Spotify, and it was the best first-day opening on the app—with 8 million streams. Spotify was not available for comment.
The claims of stream inflation came from a magazine whose name roughly translates to Music Business Worldwide. It said it analyzed stream data from Tidal with the help of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, and that it found tens of millions of manipulated streams.
Tidal went on the attack against the magazine calling it "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," a Tidal spokesman said in an e-mail statement. "The information was stolen and manipulated and we will fight these claims vigorously."
Tidal was alluding to stories in which the Norwegian music business magazine referred to Jay-Z (Sean Carter), as a drug dealer and its COO Lior Tibon as an Israeli operative.
The magazine claimed that Tidal pumped up streams for Beyoncé and West to give them a bigger piece of the royalties than they deserved, leading to millions of dollars in overpayments.
The issues of streaming royalties are a complex one for artists, music labels and the music services. Spotify has also faced questions over how it compensates artists.