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Criminal Investigation Into Global Music Service Over Dodgy Numbers

A criminal investigation has been initated into claims that high res audio service Tidal inflated their subscription numbers.

Jay-Z’s, Rihanna and Alicia Keys are all shareholders in Tidal which is popular with owners of two channel audio and premium sound subscribers.

Norway’s economic crimes unit, Økokrim, started the investigation following reports that claimed the service jacked up its streaming numbers for artists such as Beyoncé and Kanye West.

In 2014, Jay-Z acquired Tidal for $56 million from Norwegian media firm Schibsted ASA, and a year later, he introduced fellow artists such as Rihanna and Alicia Keys as co-owners.

Tidal was meant to provide artists with a better slice of the proceeds from rival streaming services such as Spotify Apple and Google Music.

But consumer rejected the premium priced service as a result they have languished in Europe, USA and Australia.

“It has been made known through media coverage that the reports relate to Tidal’s streaming service and a suspicion that someone has manipulated the number of plays of some songs,” Økokrim Attorney Elisabeth Harbo-Lervik said.

Tidal has not been charged in the investigation, according to the music service’s lawyer Fredrik Berg.

The streaming service, which began as a Norwegian startup called Wimp, has denied any wrongdoing.

Tidal executives said “We are communicating with Økokrim. From the very beginning, Dagens Næringsliv a local Norwegian newspaper 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.”

A lawsuit filed last May by groups working for Norwegian artists and record labels said the alleged fraud had deprived other artists of their fair share of royalties.

At the time, Tidal said that West’s album “Life of Pablo” had been streamed 250 million times in its first 10 days of release in February 2016, while claiming it had just 3 million subscribers. That would have meant that every subscriber played the album an average of eight times a day.

The company said that Beyoncé’s album “Lemonade” was streamed 306 million times in its first 15 days of release in April 2016.

Both claims caused Dagens Næringsliv to begin investigating Tidal for trumped-up numbers.

In 2017, Sprint bought a 33 percent stake in Tidal, following reports that the company was in talks with Apple about a sale, according to reports.There was talk at CES 2019 that Samsung had expressed an interest in buying Tidal.