When "Life of Pablo" was first released exclusively on Tidal in February 2016, the streaming service claimed that West's albums had been streamed 250 million times in its first 10 days. According to the NTNU, the digital intelligence methodologies included Tidal accessing genuine user accounts to rack up duplicate streams (as many as 150m) and repeating subscribers' own streams to bulk up the play-count.
The newspaper claims to be in possession of a hard drive, which it says "contains billions of rows of [internal TIDAL data]: times and song titles, user IDs and country codes". In one example, a user stopped the first track of Lemonade, "Pray You Catch Me", after one minute and 14 seconds, then continued through the album, listening to "Love Drought" twice and cutting the closing track short.
DN also contacted Tiare Faatea, a law student in Washington D.C, who allegedly played tracks from Lemonade 180 times within 24 hours.
Dagens Næringsliv has published multiple reports on TIDAL. TLOP eventually dropped on all platforms, but LEMONADE remains a TIDAL exclusive.
Now, after enlisting the help of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology's Centre for Cyber and Information Security to investigate data that the paper said it got from a hard drive handed in to them, an investigation has supposedly found a manipulation must have occurred. Tidal made these claims while also stating that it had three million paid subscribers.
"Through advanced statistical analysis, we have been able to determine that data has been manipulated during certain periods", CCIS wrote in its 74-page report. "The manipulation appears targeted towards a very specific set of track IDs, related to two distinct albums", reports the CCIS. "We're not looking to acquire any streaming services".
Tidal hasn't had the best of press since it launched to a huge pop star backed fanfare in 2015, but it now seems as though its owner, rapper and music mogul Jay Z, believes a raft of negative stories is down to the company's rivals.
Plagued by mismanagement, Tidal has been all but forgotten in the streaming music wars.
If the accusations are true it will create a giant firestorm of controversy and lawsuits in the already struggling music industry, but if it is proven to in fact just be a smear campaign, Dagens Næringsliv should expect Tidal and its team to come down on them legally with excessive force.
Tidal, by contrast, hasn't released updated subscriber models. Now it stands accused of falsifying the number of streams and causing record labels to pay too much to artists in royalties.
This latest report casts further doubt on the future of the company.
DN began an investigation in January 2017, following TIDAL's accusations of deliberately inflated streaming figures.