Some highly questionable numbers coming from Tidal—what in some quarters might be called “shenanigans”—are making it increasingly difficult to arrive at a clear projection on upcoming releases that derive a significant portion of their totals from streaming.
In the first week of wide release for Jay-Z’s 4:44, total reported streams to SoundScan were 122m, which was 68m more than the same streaming services reported to BuzzAngle. Similarly, two weeks prior, DJ Khaled won a race with Imagine Dragons for #1 when SoundScan logged 17m more streams than BuzzAngle. Industry insiders have confirmed that both Apple Music and Spotify, the leading steaming services with over 90% combined share, reported the same numbers to both chart services.
Chatter continues that Nielsen may change some of its rules, notably excluding free (but not ad-supported) streams; this would apply to the period when Khaled’s album appeared on Tidal in front of the paywall, where it generated no revenue but counted toward the chart. Amid all this noise there is a growing call from the industry to boot Tidal as a reporter to SoundScan—what numbers will they come up with next time?