DMX and Snoop Dogg’s Verzuz battle. (Source: Complex)
Verzuz has evolved from a fun way to listen to hit songs on Instagram Live during quarantine into “a cultural institution [reviving and sparking] new interest in hip-hop and R&B’s legacy songs and artists.” This quote is pulled from the latest edition of Billboard Magazine, which features the Swizz Beatz and Timbaland co-created concept as its cover story. However, most powerful to consider regarding Verzuz’s future is the impact of the event-related popularity surge known as the “Verzuz Effect.”
Verzuz’s explosive potential is transforming key areas of the music industry. April 20’s Teddy Riley vs. Babyface battle resulted in a 115% increase in on-demand streams for both artists combined. Babyface also saw both his Instagram followers jumped from 300,000 to 1 million, plus an increase in sample clearance requests.
Recently, the impact has moved past Instagram and solely streaming music platforms. For new Verzuz partner Apple Music, Verzuz’s placement there has resulted in a reported over half a million concurrent views for each battle, the most-watched of any livestreams held on the platform.
Also, since Memorial Day, Diageo — Ciroc vodka‘s parent company — has signed on as a multimillion-dollar sponsor. Moreover, as also revealed in Billboard, if artists endorse, Apple Music, Diageo’s liquor brands, or any of the other forthcoming potential sponsors, Verzuz will offer artists payment for their battle time.
Already, Verzuz has — via Apple and Diageo — brands worth a Forbes-estimated $1.4 trillion already on board. What has developed during a global pandemic and one of the most shocking eras in the history of modern music is clearly impressive.
Latin and African pop-specific Verzuz battles are reportedly also on the horizon. Key to note here is Apple Music’s recent desire to engage in expansion in the African marketplace. As well, “Latin Music Is Growing Faster Than Overall U.S. Music Market” reads an April Rolling Stone headline. Attaching Verzuz to that growth could have gigantic possibilities, especially for that culture’s classic reggaeton, bachata, and salsa superstars.
“People need to be educated and celebrated. That’s why we say we’ve got a long runway with this thing,” Swizz Beatz notes. Creatives playing music hits over poor Instagram Live connections in the name of avoiding boredom has blossomed into a trillion-plus dollar industry. The “Verzuz Effect” has, and will continue to yield radical, industry-shifting consequences.
Verzuz co-founders Timbaland and Swizz Beatz. (Source: Getty Images)
Verzuz, the quarantine-borne Instagram Live streaming producer and artist competition series started by Swizz Beatz and Timbaland, will now be available on Apple Music and Beats 1. The forthcoming July 22, 8 PM EST “Battle of the Dogs” between Snoop Dogg and DMX will be the first official Verzuz battle broadcast via the partnership. Previously, Apple Music and Beats 1 live-streamed a dueling piano Juneteenth episode of Verzuz, featuring Alicia Keys and John Legend.
The move is likely aimed at creating greater structure and longevity for the series. Past battles have featured significant technical difficulties, as well as connection issues posed by solely using Instagram Live. As well, the ability to maintain the series as an episodic-style catalog has not been possible. As quarantine moves into its fourth month with no definitive end in sight, Verzuz gaining sustainability as a breakout music industry leader for compelling content feels necessary. Concerns about paying artists and developing live music options are an industry concern. Ideas like simulcasting Verzuz, for free, via Instagram Live, but making it available via paywalled, subscription-only services like Apple Music and Beats 1 begin to solve this issue.
Peak musical content engagement goals during quarantine spiked 400 percent in the 50 days between D-Nice‘s 150,000 peak viewer March 21 DJ stream to Jill Scott and Erykah Badu‘s 750,000+ peak viewer May 9 Verzuz battle. However, top producers like Pharrell Williams and musical acts with Verzuz-ready catalogs like Jay-Z and Beyoncé have yet to be tabbed to “compete.” It is entirely likely that their involvement could potentially raise those numbers well over one million-plus peak viewers. If this were to occur, having multiple live arms for engagement, as well as the ability to both monetize and archive Verzuz, would be valuable.
For more Verzuz information, visit them via Instagram.
Drake and Charlie Sloth (Source: BBC)
Charlie Sloth, one of the leading hip-hop radio DJs in the UK, has announced that he’s leaving BBC Radio for Apple Music.
Sloth, who has been with the network for a decade, has hosted shows on Radio 1 and 1Xtra. His rap freestyle segment “Fire in the Booth” is globally renowned. The segment has featured appearances from Drake, Stormzy, Big Shaq, and many more.
It hasn’t been revealed what his role at Apple Music will be, but there is speculation that he will be hosting a new show on Beats 1 and contributing to the platform’s playlists.
Sloth isn’t the only BBC host to leave for Apple Music. In 2015, Zane Lowe departed the network to launch a show on Beats 1.
Sloth posted the following message on Instagram:
View this post on Instagram
After almost 10 years of dedicating my life to BBC radio 1xtra & Radio 1 and achieving everything I set out to I’ve decided the time has come to leave the BBC and seek a new challenge. I want to thank everybody who has listened to me over the years and supported me in everything I have done I love you and the journey continues. I also want to say a huge thank you to the following people for always believing in me and supporting me while at the Bbc. Dellessa James Alex lawless Carlene Morlese Rob little john Julie Shepherd Rebecca frank Joe Harland Rhys Hughes Lim La Richards Janine kempadoo Hermet Chadha Rachal Mcalroy Alex Rata Lucy Hickling And especially Ben cooper for being a great leader and for giving me all the opportunities he has to prove myself I’m forever grateful I hope all my colleagues at 1xtra and radio 1 keep up the amazing work it’s been an incredible place to work and I’m honoured to have done so. I joined the BBC as a boy and I leave as a man. Together we have created some moments that will live forever. Charlie Sloth ❤️❤️❤️❤️ ANNOUNCEMENT ON WHATS NEXT COMING SOON ❤️
Dubset has announced a partnership that will allow Apple Music to stream remixes and DJ mixes that had previously been absent due to copyright issues, Billboard reports.
The website writes:
“Dubset is a digital distributor that delivers content to digital music services. But unlike other digital distributors, Dubset will use a proprietary technology called MixBank to analyze a remix or long-form DJ mix file, identify recordings inside the file, and properly pay both record labels and music publishers.”
The partnership could be a game changer because licensing remixes and mixes is incredibly complex. According to Dubset CEO Stephen White, a typical mix has 25 to 30 songs that require payments to 25 to 30 record labels and anywhere from two to ten publishers for each track. As Billboard points out, that could be more than 600 different rights holders.
Not all remixes and mixes will be allowed on Apple Music, though.
According to Billboard: “Once an uploaded mix is analyzed, a process White says takes about 15 minutes for a 60-minute file, MixBank checks the recordings, as well as its underlying composition, against the controls and restrictions set by rights holders. For example, rights holders can blacklist an artist, album, or track. They can create a rule to limit the length of a song used in a remix or mix. Rights holders can prevent an artist from being associated with certain other artists and they can control which territories will and will not get the content. Then there’s an optional review process at the end so a rights holder can give a final approval for the file before it is distributed.”
If the remix or mix passes the tests, the remixer or DJ is notified and can select the desired distributors (others are coming soon). If the content fails the tests, the creator receives an explanation and a chance to make the necessary changes before submitting it again.
But here’s where it really gets interesting. According to Billboard, even the remixer or DJ will get a share of the earnings.
“In many ways, Dubset is like any other distributor. The service pays Dubset for the content. Dubset then figures out which label and publishers to pay. It retains a percentage of revenue for the service and pays the creator (the remixer or DJ) a share of revenue (White won’t provide the specific amount of each). Major labels and independent labels are paid at the same rates. Big DJs and small DJs also earn the same rates.”
“The goal is to bring this to all 400 distributors worldwide,” White told Billboard. “When you think about unlocking these millions of hours of content being created, it’s significant monetization for the industry.”
DJs and rights holders can sign up here.
Related: DJs Should Stop Playing SoundCloud and YouTube Rips
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