In a landmark move, Timbaland and Swizz Beatz have sold their #VERZUZ platform to the Triller Network, the parent company of the Triller social media app.
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For weeks, industry insiders had been murmuring about how the battle platform – which emerged during lockdown and proved a surprise success – was set to exit its partnership with Apple Music. A partnership that saw the streamer jointly broadcast #VERZUZ spars alongside the core Instagram Live.
And while speculation seemed centered around other streaming services, it’s now clear that the move being engineered was bigger than making a lateral shift to another streamer.
Billboard broke the news confirming that Triller has formally acquired #VERZUZ.
Per the terms of the pact, the GRAMMY-winning producers turned moguls have boarded the newly formed Triller Verzuz management team “to help oversee music and other company strategies.”
In a move that echoes JAY-Z’s initial activity with TIDAL, the also deal sees Timbaland and Swizz become large shareholders in Triller Network and notably apportion part of their equity ownership stake to the 43 performers who’ve appeared on #VERZUZ to date.
As such, the acts coming aboard as shareholders and partners include:
John Legend, DMX, Alicia Keys, 2 Chainz, Rick Ross, Too $hort, Patti LaBelle, Gucci Mane, Jeezy, E-40, Bounty Killer, D’Angelo, Ludacris, RZA, The Dream, Babyface, Nelly, Jagged Edge, Fred Hammond, Jadakiss, Fabolous, Brandy, Monica, Gladys Knight, Boi-1da, Hit-Boy, Ne-Yo, Johnta Austin, Scott Storch, T-Pain, Lil Jon, DJ Premier, Mannie Fresh, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, Beenie Man, Bounty Killer, 112, Kirk Franklin, Sean Garrett and D’Angelo.
Timbaland and Swizz Beatz said in a statement:
“This is a momentous occasion not only for Verzuz and Triller but the music business as a whole. By putting Verzuz in the Triller Network ecosystem and expanding the Verzuz brand to be side by side with the powerful Triller app, we will be able to continue to grow and evolve the music business as a whole, as we have been doing. To have partners in Triller who share our vision, specifically to celebrate and elevate the amazing artists who continue to shape culture around the world and give the consumer more direct access, is game-changing.”
We couldn’t be happier to be elevating Verzuz and Triller and to recognize, in a very real way, all of the artists who have helped make Verzuz the global phenomenon it is today. Our dream, the artists’ dream, today is realized, which is no small feat. Triller Verzuz is a company that’s by the artists, for the artists and with the people.”
Bobby Sarnevesht, executive chairman and co-owner of Triller, added:
“There is no more disruptive and innovative brand in music today than Verzuz. Both Triller and Verzuz share the ‘artist first, music first’ vision. We view this acquisition as more of a partnership than an acquisition, as Swizz, Timbaland and the other 43 artists who are all becoming shareholders and partners in Triller Verzuz from this day forward become our voice.”
Ryan Kavanaugh, Triller Network co-controlling shareholder Ryan Kavanaugh jointly added:
“In our generation, Verzuz has made a bigger impact on music than any other company we know. With this acquisition, Triller continues its evolution to be at the center of culture and the center of music. Who better to help shape Triller’s music future than the top artists in the world overseen by Timbaland and Swizz?”
The report notes that future plans for #VERZUZ include sports activations, as well as a jump into live events and comedy.
This is a mega-development and one which (amidst all the excitement) does present some interesting questions.
Partnerships such as the recent pairing with Apple Music made it fairly easy to see how #VERZUZ could broadcast from its original/ core Instagram Live base and reach new audiences via streamers.
Now, with a social media app acquiring #VERZUZ, one has to wonder whether the deal changes anything as relates to the primary destination of where viewers can tune-in. Will it still broadcast on Instagram as has been custom?
UPDATE: #VERZUZ has confirmed that the Instagram broadcasts will continue. It will simply premiere on both platforms simultaneously.
In any case, this is a game-changer. Especially, the artist shareholder aspect.
What do you think of the move? As ever, let us know…