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How Did an Unofficial Beyoncé Remix End Up on Her Official Streaming Pages?

Beyoncé fans got a surprise Wednesday night when a new remix of the song “Sweet Dreams,” originally from her 2008 album I Am… Sasha Fierce, popped up on Tidal, Apple Music, and iTunes seemingly out of the blue. Beyoncé isn’t promoting new solo music right now, and though this year is the 10th anniversary of Sasha Fierce, the exact date isn’t until November. The remix wasn’t promoted on Beyoncé’s official social media channels, and yesterday a Beyoncé rep told Pitchfork that it was not an official release—despite its brief appearance on Tidal, the Jay-Z-owned streaming service that’s typically received exclusive initial access to all things Bey. The remix has since disappeared from Apple Music, and is “no longer available” on Tidal. (It never appeared on Spotify, which also doesn’t have her most recent album Lemonade.)

The denial of authenticity from Beyoncé’s camp was one shred of information, but otherwise it’s not clear how an apparently rogue remix ended up on her official Apple and Tidal pages, or who was responsible for it happening. It’s possible the remix was an attempted publicity stunt by an unknown DJ, a variant on both the old file-sharing trick of uploading impostor tracks and the existing streaming platform scam where relative unknowns re-record hits with search-optimized metadata. But if that’s the case, it’s hard to see what the responsible party hoped to achieve, aside from personal entertainment: On Tidal, the remix was credited to “IDS,” which is not the name of any recognized producer and is essentially un-Googleable. Apple Music doesn’t display production credits, so anyone listening to the song there couldn’t have known who was behind it. Perhaps a prankster hoped an unauthorized remix of a 10-year-old song would slip quietly into a popular artist’s iTunes catalog and siphon a little revenue from deep-cut listeners. But this is Beyoncé we’re talking about—she can’t even slip quietly out of SoulCycle for cupcakes.

There was one other clue that suggested this “Sweet Dreams” remix was off-brand: On both Tidal and Apple Music, the track’s copyright, where a label is normally listed, read simply “2018 Beyonce,” without an accent mark on the final E. Proper Beyoncé releases are copyrighted to her own Parkwood Entertainment company, to Columbia Records, and/or to Columbia’s corporate parent, Sony Music Entertainment.

But it’s maybe more plausible that the “Sweet Dreams” remix was some kind of internal accident, an authentic but unused alternate version not intended to see the light of day—at least, not yet. That scenario would stretch the definition of “unofficial,” but it would at least resolve the central question: How was a seemingly random person able to get a song onto the official Beyoncé artist pages on two platforms? And why were those two platforms, Tidal and Apple, the very premium services where one would most expect to find a real Beyoncé exclusive? If your name isn’t Beyoncé, then why snub Spotify, the biggest streaming platform and the most popular venue for streaming ploys?

Given Beyoncé’s usual level of discretion, it’s entirely possible we’ll never know how this unofficial “Sweet Dreams” came to be, which would also shed some light on the opaque operations of streaming services. Spin has reached out to representatives for Columbia Records, Tidal, Apple, and Spotify for comment. If you have any information you would like to share, email [email protected].

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