After fan backlash, Swizz Beatz says today’s Verzuz battle will be free to stream

A split image of Anthony Hamilton, left, and Musiq Soulchild singing into microphones.
Anthony Hamilton, left, and Musiq Soulchild perform at the 2019 Essence Festival in New Orleans.
(Donald Traill / Amy Harris / Invision / Associated Press)

Verzuz is embracing the Valentine’s Day spirit for a special holiday battle between R&B singer-songwriters Anthony Hamilton and Musiq Soulchild. But that romantic spirit was nearly snuffed out by proposed changes to the popular music performance series.

On Tuesday, the pair of neo-soul musicians will kick off the third season of Verzuz live from the Avalon Hollywood nightclub in Los Angeles. Tickets to see the showdown in person are sold out, but music fans can still livestream the event from home.

To tune into the show, Verzuz initially required fans to sign up online for a TrillerVerzPass, promising that the Hamilton-Soulchild episode would be included in a 14-day free trial. (After that, subscribers would have had the option to pay $2.99 per month or $29.99 per year for access to monthly events hosted by Triller Fight Club, including Verzuz battles.)


However, after many social media users denounced the sudden switch from a free platform to a paid subscription service, Verzuz co-founder Swizz Beatz hopped on Instagram to set the record straight. (Up until recently, Verzuz battles had always been available to watch for free on the Verzuz Instagram page).

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April 2, 2021

“See y’all rite here tonight on insta @verzuztv,” Beatz wrote, assuring fans that the Valentine’s Day-themed installment would be free to stream after all.

“Who y’all rocking with @anthonyhamiltonofficial or @musiqsoulchild? You can also watch in HD on I was out the country don’t ask me who [changed the model] ... it’s fixed. bless up. love y’all.”

“Me and Musiq, we knew each other before we got our careers going,” Hamilton said Tuesday in a pre-game interview with TMZ.

“I knew him before — when he had dreadlocks. So now, growing up to seeing him with his career and all he’s achieved — and myself — I think it’s time now to go back through the catalog.”

Fitting for a Valentine’s Day Verzuz, both Hamilton, 51, and Soulchild, 44, have become known for singing love songs since bursting onto the music scene in the early 2000s. Among Hamilton’s most popular tracks are “Charlene,” “Best of Me,” “The Point of It All” and “Comin’ From Where I’m From,” while some of Soulchild’s greatest hits include “Just Friends (Sunny),” “Sobeautiful,” “Halfcrazy” and “Love.”


In September, Hamilton released his latest studio album, “Love Is the New Black,” featuring Rick Ross, Lil Jon and Jennifer Hudson. And just in time for his Verzuz debut, Soulchild collaborated this month with the Game on Justin Tyme’s “Legends Are Forever.”

Triller said Tuesday that it acquired online music platform Verzuz for an undisclosed amount.

March 9, 2021

To promote the third season premiere of the social media phenomenon, Verzuz is also selling a variety of Valentine’s Day-themed merchandise, including sweatshirts, tees, candles and mugs spotlighting Hamilton and Soulchild.

“I’d hate to give one of my strongest songs away, and then he comes out and puts one of his hits out, and it’s like, ‘Damn, I should have saved that.’ So you have to be have to be strategic about it,” Hamilton told TMZ of his mindset going into Tuesday’s show.

“You gotta be willing to pivot and pull out something. ... I got a lot of features, and I don’t think he has as many features as I do.”

Today’s Verzuz event begins with a DJ battle at 5:30 p.m. Pacific, followed by the main showdown between Hamilton and Soulchild at 6:15 p.m.