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Music Communications Math The Internet

Jay-Z's Tidal Accused of Faking Kanye West, Beyonce Streaming Numbers (qz.com) 43

Subscription music service Tidal has been accused of faking the streaming numbers for Kanye West and Beyonce. "Kanye West's 'The Life of Pablo,' which was the first album to go platinum primarily from streaming, and Beyonce's platinum record 'Lemonade' were released exclusively on Tidal for periods in 2016," reports Quartz. "By placing their albums on the fledgling platform, which was relaunched in 2015, both artists risked losing big paychecks." From the report: West's album was said to have been streamed 250 million times in the first 10 days on the service. And Beyonce's record was reportedly played 306 million times in 15 days. While it's not hard to believe Bey and Yeezy could hit those numbers, they rang false to some, as Tidal said it had 3 million members then. However, according to an in-depth investigation by Norwegian newspaper Dagens Naeringsliv (DN), Tidal has reportedly manipulated those streaming numbers, to potentially make the company appear more profitable or increase royalty payments to the artists at the expense of others on the service. This is something Tidal vigorously denies and says the DN report is part of a "smear campaign."

The DN's report investigated streaming numbers since 2017, when it reportedly obtained a hard drive of internal Tidal data with more than 1.5 billion of rows of user play logs. Those logs were from two periods -- from late January to early March, and mid April to early May -- totaling 65 days in 2016. Its reporters tracked down subscribers from the logs, and presented them with their apparent listening history, which the users said didn't add up.
"We have through advanced statistical analysis determined that there has in fact been a manipulation of the data at particular times. The manipulation appears targeted towards a very specific set of track IDs, related to two distinct albums," found the researchers (pdf) at NTNU's Center for Cyber and Information Security. "The manipulation likely originates from within the streaming service itself."
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Jay-Z's Tidal Accused of Faking Kanye West, Beyonce Streaming Numbers

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  • by ruddk ( 5153113 ) on Wednesday May 09, 2018 @06:19PM (#56584332) Homepage

    They have some dragon reporting power there.
    But seriously, are we just going to ignore that they got all that user data?

    • by hey! ( 33014 )

      Reporters, using statistical tests? What is this world coming to?

    • I post that kind of data online for free on a regular basis, I'm not particularly worried about it.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    That is why their numbers are inflated.

  • Hmmmm (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 09, 2018 @06:22PM (#56584350)

    With 3 million users, every single one would have streamed 'Lemonade" 102 times in 15 days.

    I am going to go with no.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      102 times in 15 days. I am going to go with no.

      Clearly you have never met a teenager.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Also the patterns described in the article shows that the users was starting and restarting the same tracks on the same second and milliseconds, but om different hours and minutes of the day. Repeating the pattern over an over again.

      For some users the same song was played simultaniously up to 150 times from the same account, in the middle of the night, exactly at 02:00:00 and 05:00:00 several consecutive nights.

      The programmer behind this must not know about any randomization function in his favorite languag

  • by Ksevio ( 865461 ) on Wednesday May 09, 2018 @06:27PM (#56584378) Homepage
    So they claim that every single user of their site streamed the albums 10 times a day for two weeks straight, as well as watching the hour long HBO show 3 times? Maybe "songs from the album" means streaming an album of 10 songs counts as 10 streams, but still, that's a bit far fetched
    • 250m in 10 days is 25 million per day; divided by 3m users is an average of 8.3 streams per user per day. That wouldn't be unrealistic if they counted a play of any single track on the album as the album being streamed. Did they specifically say otherwise? Listening to the album all the way through just once would be more than 8 streams under that scenario. Life of Pablo has 16 tracks according to Google, so half their users listening to it once is already 24m plays. So IMO if they are indeed counting a str
    • An average of 1 or 2 album play per day from each user on average doesn't seem unreasonable. A bunch of people probably signed up for those 2 albums and nothing else. I remember the reviews, the marketing blitz. Everyone from Clear channel to Pitchfork wanted you to get these records. Where have their subscription numbers gone since then? Way down?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 09, 2018 @06:37PM (#56584430)

    Dagens Næringsliv is famous in Norway for it's deep digging journalism. I'd be extremely surprised if their conclusions are wrong.

  • You do realize that all of the companies do this... right? Right?

    In the words of Robin Williams "You mean to tell me the Oscars are political? NO!!!"

    People old enough to remember yesterday, remember Prince giving away a "free" copy of his album with every concert ticket purchased, which then counted toward his album sales and he was at the top of the charts for awhile during his comeback.

    Even Reddit's viewership numbers are complete bunk. This isn't just "not news", it's an industry norm.

    • This isn't just "not news", it's an industry norm.

      Indeed. Elvis's manager Colonel Tom Parker was one of the best and set the standard. In his early days, when Elvis was playing a show he used to pay people to park in the middle of the street to create traffic chaos to build up the hype. It's called show business for a reason.

    • You do realize that all of the companies do this... right? Right?

      Expect anything involving Mr. West to get some strange new scrutiny ...

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