On the heels of a Norwegian newspaper’s investigation into Tidal alleged inflating the streaming numbers for Lemonade and Life of Pablo, Økokrim – Norway’s authority for investigation of economic and environmental crimes – has launched an investigation into claims that Tidal falsified streaming numbers and paid inflated royalties to the artists’ labels.
The entire mess began when the Norwegian publication Dagens Næringsliv aggressively investigated Tidal and accused the company – which is partially owned by Jay-Z– of intentionally falsifying streaming numbers for the albums. Økokrim’s chief public prosecutor, Elisabeth Harbo-Lervik, confirmed that an investigation by Norwegian authorities was launched late last year and is “still in an early stage” according to Variety.
The paper claims that at least four former Tidal employees have been interviewed before a judge, with facing over 25 total hours of questioning. In a statement on Monday, Tidal insisted that it “is not a suspect in the investigation” despite confirmation from Økokrim that they in fact are being investigated.
“We are communicating with Økokrim,” the statement said. “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,” they continued. We cannot comment further at this time and refer to our previous statement, which still stands.”
Tidal had a streaming exclusive on Life of Pablo album for its first six weeks of release and continues to be the exclusive streamer for Lemonade. It claimed that Pablo had been streamed 250 million times in its first 10 days of release in February of 2016, while claiming it had just 3 million subscribers. That means that every subscriber played the album an average of eight times per day.
These claims led the Norwegian paper to investigate Tidal’s numbers and report that it was intentionally inflating its subscriber count. Research from the British firm Midia estimated that Tidal’s actual total number of subscribers was closer to 1 million.
This is not the first controversy surrounding Tidal and Life of Pablo. A fan of West’s is currently suing him for claiming that the album would be a Tidal exclusive. After the fan, Justin Baker-Rhett, signed up for the service, the album became available everywhere and he filed a class action lawsuit against West and Tidal.