Anyone in the music business is aware streams of artists’ music play a vital role in their success. While indie artists’ fans often ask for CDs or vinyl, streaming stats supply numbers guaranteed to impress media and fans. Whether streaming numbers translate to similar numbers in fans is up for debate. Now Norway authorities are investigating US musician Jay-Z’s Tidal, alleging millions of “fake streams” for some artists. If true, this would result in disenfranchising others because of the way revenue is tabulated for artists.
The Telegraph (UK) reported:
“Tidal has come under investigation by Økokrim, the Norwegian police’s economic crime unit. The investigation was confirmed in an interview with Økokrim’s chief public prosecutor Elisabeth Harbo-Lervik by the Dagens Næringsliv newspaper in Norway.
The newspaper claimed in May that it had been passed a copy of an internal Tidal database which contained information on which customers had streamed certain albums. The newspaper wrote that the database showed evidence of at least 320m fake streams being registered as legitimate customers listening to music.”
The investigation hasn’t received a lot of attention in the USA, but it has received a great deal of attention abroad.
Tidal denies having anything to do with the fake streams. In today’s tech world, fake followers, fans, and streams should surprise no one. In the West, money can make a brand name out of anyone and algorithms can be tweaked to mobilize bias in public opinions.
Streaming is a good resource for indie musicians who don’t have money or clout to get their work played on the radio.
The Guardian summed up the impact of streaming for some artists:
“But times have changed: in a landscape dominated by services such as Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal and Amazon, it is possible to have a hit without the press and radio (or much of the public) even noticing you. Kiiara, hardly a household name, is currently enjoying a global hit with Gold, off the back of 312m streams on Spotify alone. (Other services don’t make their numbers public.) You could look at British artist James TW, whose song When You Love Someone has 35m streams. Then there’s Australian teen Joel Adams, whose one and only song Please Don’t Go has chalked up 320m streams on Spotify.”
The downside of streaming, some have claimed, is that listeners don’t hang around for a full album. They stream singles instead. By the way, if you follow that link to Digital Music News, be aware there’s a dead bird photo used as a graphic. If such photos upset you, don’t hit the link.
(Kay B. Day/Jan. 14, 2019)