I’m not going to look at Beyoncé and Kanye, because I think there is a slightly under-reported part of this story with Rihanna’s streaming numbers. The reason I say this is because Rihanna in the Norwegian University of Science and Technology report is used as an example of high profile artist releasing an album exclusively on Tidal, but not experiencing manipulation of the data. The only issue is that the numbers they report again don’t align with Tidal’s own reporting around the release of Anti.
Rihanna’s released Anti
on January 27th through a largely forgotten deal with Samsung where a million albums were given away, then it was available on Tidal for download and streaming. When the album was release Spin reported that the album
was streamed 13 million times within the first 14 hours
. However the New York Times that weekend reported
that Tidal said “the album was streamed 5.6 million times on its service.
Both of those number contradict each other, but neither align with the report that said according the Norwegian University of Science and Technology report: “The top thirteen tracks played on 2016-01-28 was all from Rihanna’s album [Anti], with a total of 4413802 playbacks on this day alone.” That would place her initial day streams at 4.4 million not 13 million in 14 hours. Whether Tidal meant 13 million individual song streams or 13 million streams of the entire album, which would be well over 100 million streams is kind of hard to tell. Throwing in the Times reported 5.6 million just sort makes my head spin.
Now that wasn’t the only numbers that Tidal bragged about for Rihanna’s album. The service also claimed over 400,000 albums were sold on the platform not obviously counting the million album giveaway by Samsung. Now the only issue is that according this report here were the total users numbers around the date of January 27th.
1/24/2016 - 171511
1/25/2016 - 174896
1/26/2016 - 180917
1/27/2016 - 202757
1/28/2016 - 356158
1/29/2016 - 344910
1/30/2016 - 324098
1/31/2016 - 296886
By the end of the week according to the New York Times reported that Tidal
claimed the album was downloaded 484,833 times within the first few days
. The jump of Tidal users from Jan 27 to Jan 28 was a little over 150,000. Certainly an impressive boost, but at no point in Anti opening week on Tidal did the service ever surpass over 400,000 unique users on a single day. If it never hit that milestone then potentially how could it sell 400,000 albums within only a 14 hour window? Yeah, I don’t really know either.