Triller proudly revealed last year that it would give Black artists a total of $14 million in cash and stock in 2022. By promoting marginalised talent, it seemed like a wise strategy to help the lesser-known short-form video app compete with TikTok. But according to a recent study from The Washington Post, the majority of these creators were never really paid. Some designers claimed that instead of the fame and security they were promised, they experienced financial instability.
According to a lawsuit filed on Tuesday, Triller’s missed and late payments went beyond their creator programme. Verzuz, a livestreamed music series produced by Grammy winners Timbaland and Swizz Beatz, was purchased by Triller in March 2021. Over 40 artists who had performed on Verzuz, including John Legend, 2 Chainz, Alicia Keys, T-Pain, and others, received shares from the two artists, who also became shareholders in the business.
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Triller allegedly owes Timbaland and Swizz Beatz $28 million in unpaid bills, according to their latest claim.
The parties agreed that Triller would pay the two artists $1 million per month for the following ten months after paying them $18 million by March 20th, according to the lawsuit acquired by The Washington Post. Triller allegedly skipped a significant payment to the two artists in January. Triller is alleged not to have made any of these payments in the case. Triller asserts that there is only one $10 million payment at issue.
Triller has had a bumpy route to going public since it reportedly fails to pay its partner developers. Triller initially intended to reverse merge with SeaChange International and go public, giving the merged business a $5 billion valuation. However, Triller abandoned its merger in June and filed in secret to go public a few weeks later. Triller has never been profitable and lost more than $700 million last year, according to SEC records.
Triller emailed TechCrunch a comment on the lawsuit, saying:
This conflict is not related to VERZUZ; rather, it is only related to Swizz and Tim’s earn-out payments. Triller has already given Swizz and Tim about $50 million in cash and shares, and they will likely receive substantially more in the future. They also have yearly duties that, if fulfilled without a breach, entitle them to further compensation. The $10 million payment in question is just one. The requirements for that payment, which include but are not limited to the delivery of a specific number of VERZUZ events for 2022, are ones we don’t think they’ve yet accomplished. The operations of VERZUZ or Triller’s ownership of VERZUZ are unaffected by this, which is why we have been working to find a peaceful solution. We anticipate a verdict that considers all the evidence if this does go to trial.