Hey Family, first and foremost, Black people getting money will always be a beautiful thing to me—especially when they're taking other Black people to the Promised Land. That's why I delivered a full-palmed, standing, slow clap when I read about deal Swizz Beatz and Timbaland executed between Verzuz and Triller.
To understand the deal you have to know a bit about Triller's backstory.
Most folks know Triller as the “kinda like TikTok but a little different” app and that’s clearly a problem for the brand. Things really started to shift last summer when TikTok was about to get banned by Trump. Triller positioned itself for a US takeover but despite looking like a strong possible that ban—much like Trump's time in the White House—didn't stick. Now people are using TikTok to participate in challenges (aka Buss it & Silhouette) and its pop currency is rising. Luckily, Triller made some silent but very effective pivots that re-positioned their company.
When replacing TikTok seemed bleak, the brand elected to focus on the integration of live events. It worked. Triller established itself as an “app to create professional-looking music videos in seconds”. Still, it was actually a quote from the CEO Mike Lu to ABC News back in December that really announced the most meaningly shift, the brand's mission. He stated, “The way we look at our product: We define cultural moments.” This response was to questions about why they decided to present something that no one expected, the Mike Tyson vs. Roy Jones fight.
Yeah… That fight. The same night that brought us the Nate Robinson knock out heard all over the internets and gave us memes for days.
That was a Triller Network Live Event. They sold Pay-Per-View tickets for $49.99 and everything, fam. That night brought Triller so much money and attention they decided that it should be a core part of their strategy. Not only to get new users, but also to convert new artists to their platform. This is now a core part of their business. They want to integrate live events into their social media music app business by leveraging the platform and allowing artists to document the journey both to the live event and after it. Social media meets live events, in one network.
Enter Verzuz… A music based live events network. Verzuz established itself as the premiere live events platform during COVID-19 for music. It has completely changed the way we view attending live events and, perhaps most importantly, has allowed artists—particularly superstars and fan faves who've lost pop culture currency— to reemerge to our regular scheduled programming. Users have generated millions of interactions over the past few months on Twitter, Instagram, and other platforms due to Verzuz events. Imagine having all of that on one single platform? That’s the Triller Network dream. An added benefit is having the Verzuz artists on the rolls at Triller. This gives the Triller Network possible access to their music catalog, which is also a huge level of importance because streaming rights are core component to allowing users to use other artists music to create videos.
The Verzuz acquisition is a 2 for 1 deal that Triller can’t live without. They need the street cred that Swizz Beats and Timbaland carry along with the body of work of all the artists that accompany the deal.
This also leads me to another conversation that actually needs to be brought to light. We are really seeing a beautiful series of events in which artists are getting paid. Wealth building from music to tech is happening in real time; let's talk about it.
Jay Z SOLD two businesses in the last two weeks. He sold significant ownership of Ace of Spades to LVMH and the majority stake of Tidal to Square for an undisclosed amount while taking a seat on their board of directors. A lesser known fact is that the artists who lined up on that stage with Jay Z the day he announced Tidal… each got an $8.9 million check from the Square deal. Love to see it.
Now we’re watching a substantial portion of the artists who performed at Verzuz see the same gains by getting equity in Verzuz (and also Triller) through this acquisition. By the way, Triller plans on going public toward the end of the year—keep your eyes on that. So hopefully we’ll be able to buy the stock and directly invest in Verzuz while enjoying the content.
If that isn’t Black Excellence… I don’t know what is.
So Triller Network is really User Generated-MTV meets Pay-Per-View meets TikTok. Not “kinda like TikTok but not really TikTok.” Verzuz is a big deal for them and that needs to be said. This is a big win for Hip Hop and an even bigger win for creators. Let’s clap it up for us watching Black people create a business out of the pandemic and making millions out of it. I really hope we can see more of it.
Carl H. Joseph-Black is the founder of The Dime and runs The Blacklist Social Club. You can contact him on any social media platform @CJoeBlack.