Music-streaming service Tidal under fire over late royalty payments

In December of last year, it was reported that the much-hyped streaming service Tidal may only have enough money for 6 more months of operation. 

With that timeframe having just passed us, a new story from Dagens Næringsliv, the Norwegian newspaper that originally broke that news, is now reporting that Tidal is several months behind on its royalty payments to a number of record labels.

According to the publication, the claim that the streaming service is “behind with payments directly to the three major international record companies” is backed by multiple execs, painting a rather dire picture of Tidal's future. 

Is Tidal washed up?

Sveinung Rindal, CEO of the Sony-owned distribution company Phonofile, confirmed the story by stating that, “It is correct that there are delays in payments from Tidal,” according to a translation of the story by Music Business Worldwide

Propeller Recordings CEO Frithjof Boye Hungnes went a few steps further, bluntly stating that the label has “not been paid since October" and that "people are talking about withdrawing [their music from Tidal]; I think there is a pretty upset mood.”

The report comes just a few months after allegations that Tidal had been boosting its subscriber numbers since launch, and days after claims that the company had faked hundreds of millions of streams of Beyoncé's album Lemonade and Kanye West's album The Life of Pablo.

In a statement released last week, Tidal described Dagens Naeringsliv's reports as a "smear campaign from a publication that once referred to our employee as an 'Israeli intelligence officer' and our owner as a 'crack dealer.' We expect nothing less from them than this ridiculous story, lies and falsehoods. The information was stolen and manipulated and we will fight these claims vigorously."

Stephen Lambrechts
Senior Journalist, Phones and Entertainment

Stephen primarily covers phones and entertainment for TechRadar's Australian team, and has written professionally across the categories of tech, film, television and gaming in both print and online for over a decade. He's obsessed with smartphones, televisions, consoles and gaming PCs, and has a deep-seated desire to consume all forms of media at the highest quality possible. 

He's also likely to talk a person’s ear off at the mere mention of Android, cats, retro sneaker releases, travelling and physical media, such as vinyl and boutique Blu-ray releases. Right now, he's most excited about QD-OLED technology, The Batman and Hellblade 2: Senua's Saga.