After announcing their groundbreaking deal with Triller and their “Verzuz” platform, super producers Timbaland and Swizz Beatz are now taking time to clap back at critics.
The partnership is set to expand the international reach of “Verzuz” by building a hub for global creatives, but what may be the most interesting part about it is that it also names as Triller shareholders the 43 artists who have participated in the live Instagram battles.
“These 43 artists are special because they played a big part in the process. They believed in us when our service was bad; took risks and came out of their houses during COVID-19 to do something for free, for their fans and love of the arts,” said Swizz to Billboard.
While this sounds like a monumental move for the culture, some criticized the music giants for selling out. One of those people were “Power Book II: Ghost” star Michael Rainey Jr.
The actor took to his Instagram Stories to share his thoughts about the deal. In the first post, he shared an image of the producers and called them “sellouts.” He continued writing, “Can’t ever jus have something of our own it’s always bout the money.” In his second post, Rainey Jr. wrote, “Cool move but these n—-s still sellouts.”
Both Timbaland and Swizz Beatz caught wind of the 20-year-old’s comments and responded.
Swizz wrote, “But we own triller 🤷🏽♂️😂,” while Timbaland wrote, “We own everything tell who done that.”
“Verzuz” kicked off with Timbaland and Swizz going round for round against each other in March 2020. From there, the duo organized sets, including Jill Scott and Erykah Badu, Gucci Mane and Jeezy, Nelly and Ludacris, Gladys Knight and Patti Labelle, and its record-breaking stream of Monica and Brandy.
Both producers say the Verzuz concept was an idea they toyed with over the years, but never saw the right opportunity to test it out — at least not until the global lockdowns of 2020 began. The battles quickly took off — drawing in millions of viewers, trending on social media and attracting companies such as Ciroc as sponsors. But even with the unprecedented success of the platform, Timbaland and Swizz continuously passed on opportunities to profit off their platform.
As Swizz explained it, “The whole time that Tim and I were building this platform, we didn’t really have any plans from a monetization or even a business side. We never even built out the technology for it. It was more about wanting to do this from a celebration, educational side; to give people some life, love and happiness during these hard times.”
Timbaland shared a similar sentiment in May of last year when speaking with TMZ.
“A lot of people contacted me and Swizz about a lot of things, but right now, we just want to keep it for the culture because it’s so organic.”
As for how the deal between “Verzuz” and Triller came to be, Swizz says it was the only company willing to give a piece of ownership to the artists who helped “Verzuz” become a phenomenon.
“They had to accept everybody, not just me and Tim… They’re [most businesses] cool with having one or two people from the culture but not 43. Me and Tim were coming with our family. Triller was the only company that accepted that,” he said.
Similarly this week saw a second announcement regarding streaming that shocked many: Rapper turned business mogul Jay-Z’s sold 51 percent of Tidal to Square, owned by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, for a whopping $297 million.
The entertainment streaming platform launched in March 2015 with 16 artist stakeholders, including Beyoncé, Usher, Kanye West and Alicia Keys. With each artist earning three percent equity they could see a payout of nearly $9 million each, according to Variety.
As for “Verzuz” fans, they have flooded both producers with congratulatory messages across social media.
“Congratulations fellas! Hard work paid off”
“🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 KEEP BREAKING THROUGH CEILINGS!”