Tidal allegedly fudged streaming numbers for Beyoncé and Kanye West albums
Jay-Z’s music-streaming service Tidal was accused of cooking the books containing its streaming data to score higher numbers and payouts for Beyoncé and Kanye West’s most recent albums.
In a 78-page report, Norwegian newspaper Dagens Naeringsliv said it investigated Tidal’s internal data found Bey’ and ’Ye’s streaming numbers were manipulated by fake plays to the beat of “several hundred million.”
When life gives you Beyoncé, make Lemonade
The streaming platform was relaunched in 2015 with West’s “The Life of Pablo” (the first album to go platinum through streaming), and then featured Beyoncé’s “Lemonade” exclusively on Tidal in 2016.
The investigation began when Tidal claimed West’s album was streamed 250m times in its first 10 days, while Beyoncé’s record was reportedly played 306m times in 15 days.
At first glance, the story totally checks out -- after all, it’s friggin Beyoncé and Kanye we’re talking about here.
Problem is, Tidal reported only 3m subscribers at the time...
Which means every subscriber would’ve had to play the albums “dozens of times” a day.
DN obtained a hard drive of internal Tidal data in 2017 that included more than 1.5B rows of user play logs -- and when they cross-referenced users with the data, it didn’t add up.
DN’s research shows that the data was fudged by copying and inserting playbacks of tracks and adjusting the timestamps on the duplicate plays.
The report concluded that Tidal knowingly manipulated its data for the two albums to “generate massive royalty payouts at the expense of other artists” on the platform.
Shocker: Tidal denies the claims
A lawyer for Tidal told Rolling Stone that the findings were fabricated, and the accusations are a part of a “smear campaign” by the publication -- one that the music company plans to fight “vigorously.”
The report also questions Tidal’s 3m reported subscribers -- based on revenue, research analysts believe that number couldn’t have been higher than 1m.
We blame “Becky with the good hair” for all of this.
Spotify just threw a party
Glassdoor acquired for $1.2B, as people focus on finding their dream job
Everyone’s favorite platform to vent about their company, Glassdoor, announced yesterday that Japanese HR company Recruit Holdings will purchase them for $1.2B.
That makes it one of the largest tech acquisitions of 2018. Recode reports that Glassdoor was entertaining the idea of an IPO later this year (their last funding was 2 years ago at a $860m valuation), but instead opted for a sale to get the cash they need to grow.
Recruit hopes to use Glassdoor to expand stateside and bridge the gap between employers and job seekers...
Because free lunch does not a fulfilling career make
Years of price-gouging ensure there are no competitors to address EpiPen shortage
According to a Bloomberg report, patients in 45 states are unable to fill their prescriptions for EpiPens.
This shortage -- the result of a multi-year saga involving the pharma-company Mylan, the FDA, and angry nut-fearing parents -- highlights the challenges of reining in pharmaceutical price-gouging.
All about the market share
After Mylan bought the rights to sell EpiPens, it increased prices 550% -- from $94 in 2007 to $608 in 2016.
The hikes tripled Mylan’s stock price, but also made them reliant on EpiPen sales, which now accounted for 40% of their profits.
After more than 700k consumers protested and prompted a Department of Justice lawsuit, Mylan introduced a cheaper generic version of the drug. But with the feds off their backs, Mylan continued to lobby against alternatives to their drugs to choke out competitors.
The FDA’s slap on the wrist didn’t hurt enough
Legal rulings stripped Mylan’s monopoly, but after reducing their fine to a measly $465m, and lobbying for exclusive contracts, the company’s market share only fell from 95% to 71%.
Mylan joins companies like Turing Pharmaceuticals (pharma-bro Martin Shkreli’s company) and Valeant (which rebranded this week to clean up its image) that pay fines for price-gouging but continue to operate.
Now, even though EpiPen alternatives exist (some for as low as $10), Mylan’s market control has kept competitors so small they can’t help address the current shortage.
In the meantime, Mylan’s producer, Pfizer, says they “cannot commit to a specific time for when the supply constraint will be fully resolved.”
Airlines are profiting on your indecisiveness and poor packing skills
Over the last year, the nation’s largest airlines managed to land a $15.5B profit -- $4.6B of which came straight outta your baggage fees and $2.9B of which came from your flight change fees, according to the US Bureau of Transportation Statistics.
As labor and fuel costs increase, airlines get creative -- and often downright manipulative -- to create profits out of thin air.
Costs are climbing faster than airlines can grow
Fuel costs have risen more than 23% from 2016 to 2017, and labor costs increased 9% -- shaving the money airlines make off each customer down to just $17.75 per flight.
Industry profits are down 41.3% from their 2015 high of $26.4B -- but airlines still squeezed out an after-tax profit for the 5th year. So with 4.5% to 16.5% margins, how did airlines still manage to add 450 planes to their fleets?
Fees are the fuel keeping profits in the air
Airlines are happy to break even on ticket prices -- as long as they can charge extra for everything from extra baggage to a glass of water.
Baggage and change fees alone account for $7.5B of airlines’ $15.5B profit, but the USBLS doesn’t collect statistics on other in-flight charges (food, movies, legroom) -- meaning fees probably account for more than 50% of overall profit.
While reliance on fees over ticket sales reduces profit when fuel prices spike (like now) -- when costs decrease, profits are ready to take off.
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