Tidal, We Have a Fake Spin Problem
So this isn’t good. Over the past few days rumors have started to circulate in the music industry that Tidal has been inflating the number of plays of new music releases from core artists like Kanye West and Beyonce. The math is pretty staggering. According to Tidal music from Beyonce’s latest album was played 306M times in the first 15 days of her album release, and Kanye wasn’t far behind with 250M plays over the first 10 days of his release. Those numbers might be feasible for a very large streamer like Pandora or Spotify, but Tidal only has about 3M active subscribers at most. That means all 3M Tidal listeners would have listened to songs from Beyonce’s new album seven times a day for 15 days in a row in order to hit 306M spins. I’m pretty confident that didn’t happen.
Right now you may be asking why would Tidal inflate its own play numbers since it ends up costing them more in music royalties? You just have to follow the money to figure out the answer to that one. Even though Tidal may be losing money because of the inflated spins, Kanye and Beyonce directly benefit because they’re on the receiving end of the higher royalties payouts. Keep in mind both are part of the original group of 16 artists who received equity in Tidal to help launch the platform in 2015. So this feels like minority owners cooking the books to make some extra green at the expense of the company.
In full disclosure there’s no evidence Kanye, Beyonce or lead investor Jay-Z (aka Mr. Beyonce) were involved in jacking the play numbers. But their spins are obviously high, and the owner-artist relationship leaves plenty of room for speculation.