Sun | Nov 28, 2021

Beenie Man, Bounty Killer get Triller Network equity

Verzuz acquisition deal gives more than 40 performers stake in tech company

Published:Wednesday | March 10, 2021 | 11:50 AM

The more than 40 entertainers who performed in the Verzuz webcast series, including dancehall artistes Beenie Man and Bounty Killer, now own equity in Triller Network.

Verzuz, the music battle live stream created by Timbaland and Swizz Beatz, was acquired by Triller Network, and the two producers have allocated part of their equity stake to all the performers who've appeared on Verzuz to date. "Finally, something that the creatives own officially!" posted Swizz Beatz on Instagram, heralding the move.

No financial details have yet been released, but Swizz Beatz and Timbaland called the deal a "momentous occasion" in a joint statement to Billboard.

"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 artistes who continue to shape culture around the world and give the consumer more direct access, is game-changing," the statement said.

Verzuz, which was first streamed in March 2020 during the COVID-19 lockdown with a battle between Swizz Beatz and Timbaland, went on to include a number of entertainers, including John Legend, DMX, Alicia Keys, Rick Ross, Patti LaBelle, Ludacris, The-Dream, Babyface, Brandy, Monica, Gladys Knight, Ne-Yo, T-Pain, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, 112, Kirk Franklin, D'Angelo, Boi-1da and Hit-Boy.

Canadian record producer and songwriter Boi-1da thanked the creators for making him and other participants shareholders of the "amazing venture".

"This is a game changer for the narrative of how business should be done. They didn't have to do this. Too many times, we as black people have helped build something from the ground up that we don't own or have anything to do with. Hit-Boy and I were just doing this for fun, something for the culture, and it's so crazy that it turned into this! I am forever grateful to be a part of this with the rest of the amazing people involved," he wrote.

The producer wasn't the only one excited. Both Beenie Man and Bounty Killer, who had one of the top clashes in the series and set a new format for the stream, welcomed the news.

Bounty Killer posted the news to his Instagram, and Beenie Man took the comment section to thank Swizz Beatz and Timbaland. "Big up to my brothers @timbaland and @therealswizzz," he said. While, Bounty Killer, replying to Swizz Beatz's comment, thanked the producer "for being a part of the evolution".

Triller Network is the parent company of the Triller, a social-networking, video-sharing app similar to TikTok, which allows users to capture, edit and share videos.

In addition to expanding the Verzuz brand, Timbaland and Swizz Beatz will now oversee music strategy at Triller.

What's next for Verzuz? "More battles, and we look forward to further expanding into sports, comedy, and live events," tweeted the official account.

The popular series will remain free. It will continue to stream on Instagram, and will now also be available on Triller, which just last month launched its TrillerTV and announced a line-up of more than 40 new original programmes. The line-up includes shows with Jennifer Lopez, the D'Amelio family, DJ Khaled, the famed Hype House, 2 Chainz, Fat Joe, and many others.

"Verzuz isn't just a company, a platform or an event, it is a cultural movement and phenomenon," Triller Network's co-controlling shareholders Bobby Sarnevesht and Ryan Kavanaugh said in a statement to Billboard. "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 centre of culture and the centre of music. Who better to help shape Triller's music future than the top artistes in the world overseen by Timbaland and Swizz?"

entertainment@gleanerjm.com