Swizz Beatz and Timbaland are taking Triller to court. The super producers have accused the video-sharing social networking service of defaulting on payments they were owed after they sold their popular rap battle show VERZUZ to the company in March 2021. According to court documents, the hip-hop titans are suing for a whopping $28 million in compensatory damages and attorney fees.
The lawsuit, which was filed on Tuesday, alleges that Triller failed to issue scheduled payments to Swizz Beats and Timbaland after they brought VERZUZ from the duo for an undisclosed amount. Under the agreement, the company promised to pay the hip-hop stars their first payment “at closing, another shortly after, and two more on the first and second anniversaries of the deal.” The company allegedly defaulted on their agreement in January 2022 after they issued the first two payments to the duo, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Shortly after, the iconic producers entered a settlement deal with the company where they were set to receive $9 million by March 2022 with $500,000 monthly payments apiece to follow for 10 months. After missing the March deadline, Timbaland and Swizzy sent a notice and demand for payment in April, but Triller never issued the funds.
In a statement to TMZ, a rep for the company claimed they had already paid the award-winning producers. “This is not a feud over VERZUZ, but simply about earn-out payments to Swizz and Tim,” the spokesperson clarified. “Swizz and Tim have personally been paid by Triller over $50 million in cash and stock to date, and they stand to benefit even more over time. In addition, they have annual obligations, which if met, and no breach has occurred, entitles them to additional payments.”
The rep added, “Only one payment of $10 million is in question. We do not believe they have met the thresholds for that payment yet, which include, but are not limited to, delivery of a set number of VERZUZ events for 2022. We have been trying to resolve this amicably and this does not affect VERZUZ operations or Triller’s ownership of VERZUZ. If this does proceed in court, we look forward to a judgment that weighs all the facts.”
This isn’t the first time Triller has been accused of missing payments to Black content creators. Last fall, the short-form video app partnered with nearly 300 Black content creators on TikTok offering the social media stars contracts totaling $14 million. In November 2021, the company released a statement noting that the deal was the “largest ever one-time commitment of capital to Black creators.”However earlier this month, in an interview with The Washington Post, some of the Black content creators involved in the historic deal claimed they were either never paid or did not receive the full amount they were contractually promised. The frustrated influencers accused the company of being “disorganized” with the program. According to the aggrieved content creators, Triller allegedly sent an email in late May stating that there could be a “delay in completing” their “ongoing contractual obligations” due to a “fiduciary responsibility” associated with a planned reserved merger. Now, some of the participants have been forced to keep up with the company’s difficult demands as they wait to receive payment.
According to reports, the content creators are required to deliver consistent posts monthly, and under the terms of the agreement, they aren’t allowed to post content to the company’s competitor site TikTok. Many participants say they have missed out on financial opportunities being cut off from the platform as they await payment from Triller.
“This program was meant to make us financially free and to empower Black people,” David Warren, a popular TikTok dance creator told The Washington Post. “They told us that so much was going to happen for us. We were made to look like fools.” A few of the Black content creators told the outlet that they were in debt and facing eviction because of the failed payments.
In a statement, Triller’s CEO Mahi da Silva claimed that the company had already “met its financial commitments to the creators in this program.” He added, “We specifically take pride in our role in creating a platform that celebrates Black creator content. No other medium has done as much as Triller has for this often overlooked and underrepresented part of the creator economy.”
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