Who Leaked Rihanna’s Album? Tidal and Universal Play the Blame Game

Rihanna And The Clara Lionel Foundation Host 2nd Annual Diamond Ball - Arrivals
Suuuure it did. Photo: JB Lacroix/Getty Images

Now that AntiRihanna’s latest boss move, is out for all the world to hear, Tidal is finally coming clean about the mishap that forced its early release. The streaming service tells Spin that a “system error” is to blame for Anti’s preemptive leak, not foul play or Kanye. “Look, we know what happened here, in the sense that unfortunately we still rely on systems, and there was a system error. But I don’t think it hurt it at all,” a rep says. They’re right, Rihanna isn’t hurting: The album is now RIAA-certified platinum, having been downloaded 1.4 million times in 15 hours. But Tidal confirms that none of those free downloads will count toward Anti’s sales on the Billboard chart. “There were conversations [with Billboard] early on when this promotion and partnership started, but ultimately it became about giving music directly to the fans. While everyone would’ve loved to have it count, the thing that we’re focused on here is that it’s No. 1.” For more on Rihanna’s Anti, read Lindsay Zoladz’s review and Vulture’s roundtable discussion.

Update: A representative from Tidal has clarified to Spin that, when discussing a “system error,” Tidal’s marketing director was “referring to a system error caused by Universal Music Group. The error was not something Tidal caused.” Additionally, “Billboard and Nielsen are counting Anti’s sales on Tidal towards their totals, [but] they aren’t counting the Samsung/Rihanna download code gift to fans. The 400k+ sales of Anti via Tidal will be counted by Billboard.”

Update No. 2: An anonymous Universal exec now tells Billboard that the label had nothing to do with the leak, despite what Tidal says: “This whole thing is absurd, we would have taken responsibility if it were our error. Instead of having their flack flail around trying to revise their own media spin, maybe they should just focus on serving Rihanna — that’s what we’re focused on.” Tidal tells Billboard it stands by what the company told Spin, so whoever really did leak Anti remains a mystery. (Was it you, Kanye?)

No One Knows Who Leaked Rihanna’s Album