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Streaming company Tidal is investigating a possible data breach following a bombshell report claiming the platform inflated its subscribers and streaming figures to improve the impact of its streaming exclusives.
Music Business Worldwide reports that Tidal has enlisted an “independent, third-party cyber-security firm” to investigate the potential data breach. The investigation comes less than two weeks after Norwegian newspaper Dagens Næringsliv claimed the company inflated the streaming figures of two exclusive releases, Beyoncé’s Lemonade and Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo, by millions.
In 2016, Tidal claimed Pablo earned 250 million streams in its first 10 days, while Lemonade earned 306 million streams in its first 15 days—astronomical and dubious numbers for a company that had fewer than 3 million users at the time. Dagens Næringsliv, which obtained a hard drive containing Tidal’s internal data, also ruled out the possibility of a hack:
Our analysis also shows a significant number of system users were affected by the manipulation, which may exclude a external or user originated manipulation. As such the manipulation likely originates from within the streaming service itself.
Tidal, meanwhile, summarily denied the Dagens Næringsliv report, while also suggesting it might have been the victim of a data breach. Tidal CEO Richard Sanders gave the following statement to Variety:
We reject and deny the claims that have been made by Dagens Næringsliv. Although we do not typically comment on stories we believe to be false, we feel it is important to make sure that our artists, employees, and subscribers know that we are not taking the security and integrity of our data lightly, and we will not back down from our commitment to them.
When we learned of a potential data breach we immediately, and aggressively, began pursuing multiple avenues available to uncover what occurred. This included reporting it to proper authorities, pursuing legal action, and proactively taking steps to further strengthen our stringent security measures that are already in place.
In other words: Tidal denies the Norwegian report and believes its streaming figures are sound, but if the numbers are wrong, it’s because it was hacked. It’s another confusing update in the saga of the beleaguered company, which has mostly become a punchline in the ongoing streaming war.
Bryan Rolli is a reporter who specializes in streaming entertainment. He writes about music and film for Forbes, Billboard, and the Austin American-Statesman. He met Flavor Flav in two separate Las Vegas bowling alleys and still can’t stop talking about it.