Jay-Z’s music-streaming service Tidal, which was the subject of a major report of fraudulent streaming numbers for Beyoncé and Kanye West albums last year, is under investigation from Norwegian authorities, according to Dagens Næringsliv, the newspaper that published the original claims.
Last May, Dagens Næringsliv alleged, off of internal data it acquired from an unnamed source, that Tidal had intentionally falsified streaming numbers for two albums — The Life of Pablo by Kanye West and Lemonade by Beyoncé, whose husband owns most of the music-streaming service — to inflate royalties for those works and cheat other artists out of payouts.
Tidal has repeatedly denied the accusation, calling it a “smear campaign” and a “ridiculous story,” and the streaming service later launched an internal investigation into a potential data breach within its ranks, searching for an employee who might have leaked and later manipulated the company’s streaming data. (If there were substantive findings, Tidal did not announce them.) The newspaper reported on Monday that Norway’s authority for investigation of economic and environmental crimes is in an “early stage” of looking into the charges.
At least four former Tidal employees have been interviewed before a judge, who’s overseen more than 25 hours of questioning on the matter, according to DN. Tidal responded with the following statement on Monday, saying it continues to reject DN‘s claims of streaming falsification and is cooperating with the case: “Tidal is not a suspect in the investigation. We are communicating with Økokrim [the Norwegian authority]. From the very beginning, DN has quoted documents that they have not shared with us in spite of repeated requests. 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 and refer to our previous statement, which still stands.”
DN has also alleged, in a separate report last year, that Tidal’s self-proclaimed base of 3 million users is intentionally inflated — but that number does not seem to be a focus in the official Norwegian investigation into the streaming service’s reported data. Rolling Stone will update with more details on the investigation as it develops.