Verzuz is coming up on its one-year anniversary, so now is the perfect time for the groundbreaking livestream music platform to take it to the next level.
In an exclusive from Billboard, the outlet shares that co-creators and Grammy-winning producers Swizz Beatz and Timbaland have joined the Triller management team in an equity deal where the network — also the parent company of the Triller app — has acquired Verzuz.
Verzuz, the livestream platform created by @THEREALSWIZZZ and @Timbaland, has been acquired by @Triller's parent company https://t.co/qv5dFUhEIO
— billboard (@billboard) March 9, 2021
“There is no more disruptive and innovative brand in music today than Verzuz,” said Bobby Sarnevesht — executive chairman and co-owner of Triller — in a reported statement. “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.”
Details of the deal — which were advised by global firm PJT Partners — include Swizz and Timbaland directing a portion of their equity stake to the 43 artists who have made appearances on the platform so far. Additionally, terms of the new agreement will also allow the two producers to help oversee music and other company strategies for Triller.
“At the end of the day, Triller and Verzuz have always shared a very similar mantra which is, ‘by the artist, for the artist,’ with the people,” Triller boss Ryan Kavanaugh shared with AfroTech. “I don’t think anybody in the music business does that today – they can say that, but don’t really do that.”
In terms of what this new partnership means for Verzuz, Triller and the music industry at-large, Kavanaugh concluded, “It’s really about empowering the connectivity between people and music and also giving the artist a voice on their own directly to the world. Verzuz has done that and I think Triller has done that, and putting the two together really takes two sides of the world – breaking the internet in Verzuz where they’re getting millions of concurrent viewers and on our side actually breaking new artists. Putting those two together really transforms the music business.”
According to Billboard, artists joining the deal 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, 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.
Swizz Beatz and Timbaland celebrated the new deal and shared their excitement in a statement to Billboard:
“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.”
Verzuz has grown to be a multi-million dollar substitute for live performances over the last year amid the pandemic, and has proven to be the music industry’s biggest payoff. Since it first kicked off in March 2020, the platform has garnered over five billion impressions, and has also boosted the sales and streams for its featured artists, Billboard shares.
In addition to receiving sponsorships from Apple, Verzuz has also expanded into sports after announcing its latest collaboration — NFL Pro Bowl Verzuz.
As more artists join the platform for its monumental battles, Verzuz is expected to remain a staple across the music and entertainment industries.
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Editorial note: This article has been updated to reflect a direct quote from Ryan Kavanaugh.