Mega music producers Swizz Beatz and Timbaland are suing video sharing platform Triller, claiming they're owed $28 million from the sale of Verzuz, a live-streaming series that features music battles across a variety of genres.
Verzuz first got its start at the top of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020 when Swizz Beatz and Timbaland faced off during an Instagram Live session. Since then, the platform has gone through several iterations of its original self, which include being hosted solely on Instagram, to a partnership with Apple, and then the sale to Triller last year.
The deal between Swizz Beatz, Timbaland, and Triller was announced just under a year after the launch of the series. The exact terms of the sale were not disclosed, but the music-producing duo revealed that they received an equity stake in the video-sharing platform, which they then divvied up between the 43 artists that had already hit the Verzuz stage. Some of those artists included Patti LaBelle, T-Pain, Kirk Franklin, Alicia Keys, and DMX.
Triller has since responded to the lawsuit, telling the New York Post that the two have already been paid. "We do not wish to air out our dirty laundry in the press, but we have paid Swizz and Tim millions in cash and in stock," Triller said in a statement.
When the deal was announced, the pair said Triller would help expand the platform's brand and elevate the music industry as a whole.
"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," the producers said in a statement at the time.
The lawsuit alleges that Triller failed to pay the producers, even after agreeing to a January 2022 settlement that required the company to shell out an $18 million lump sum to the pair and then 10 monthly payments of $1 million.
This isn't the first time Triller has been called out for its business practices. Last year, Universal Music Group pulled its entire catalog from the platform after saying artists weren't being paid even though their music was being used. Both sides eventually came to an agreement to allow Verzuz to continue using music licensed by Universal.