Pulling the curtain on the internet wizards

Bet you’ve also wondered if there’s real people behind all the internet buzz about “hits” and “going viral.” Our suspicions appear well placed. Variety is reporting that Jay-Z’s streaming app, Tidal, inflated streaming numbers for Beyonce’s “Lemonade” and Kanye West’s “Life of Pablo.”

Tidal, which has rarely shared its data publicly, had a streaming exclusive on West’s album for its first six weeks of release and continues to be the exclusive streamer for Beyonce’s album. It claimed that West’s album 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 -- a claim that would have meant every subscriber played the album an average of eight times per day; and that Beyonce’s album was streamed 306 million times in its first 15 days of release in April of 2016.

These claims led the Norwegian paper to investigate the service’s numbers and report that it was intentionally inflating its subscriber count, a report supported by research from British firm Midia, which estimated that Tidal’s total number of subscribers was closer to 1 million globally.

Today’s report, according to MBW’s translation, says that “Beyoncé’s and Kanye West’s listener numbers on Tidal have been manipulated to the tune of several hundred million false plays… which has generated massive royalty payouts at the expense of other artists.”

Tidal strongly denied the reports.  But many of us nonetheless wonder how viral, viral really is.