By Jonathan Landrum Jr., AP Entertainment Writer
Timbaland paved his own way as a hit-making producer for elite acts like Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z, but now he’s creating a lane for aspiring music creators to collaborate with the industry’s biggest performers.
While his uber-successful “Verzuz” series with Swizz Beatz remains popular, Timbaland steps into a new venture called Beatclub, an online beat-selling marketplace. It’s a digital platform for music makers to connect with musicians, producers, songwriters, music publishers and record labels.
Through Beatclub, Timbaland looks to become a liaison between the unknown and the very well-known.
“I know what it’s like being a kid sitting in a room, don’t know if you got talent. The way that this world is moving, how do these kids get their music heard,” said Timbaland, a Grammy-winning producer and songwriter who has worked with Beyoncé, Missy Elliott, Rihanna, Madonna, Drake and more.
“This platform is a place where creators can communicate,” he continues. “I’m the head of the ship. But guess what, if you own a ship, you can communicate with me and you get better. I can point you to a Lil Durk or Lil Baby and tell them to lookout for this guy or girl, and give that person a shot. That could be their biggest dream.”
Beatclub expects to officially launch later this year, but several top-line musicians and producers like J. Cole, Mike WiLL Made-It, Mike Dean, Tainy and Scott Storch have joined.
On Monday, Justin Timberlake announced to The Associated Press that he’s joining Beatclub as well. The singer said he’s currently working with Timbaland and Beatclub on his upcoming record.
“When Tim told me about Beatclub, the concept behind it, I thought what a great, brilliant idea,” said Timberlake, who has won three Grammys with Timbaland for “Sexy Back,” “LoveStoned/I Think She Knows” and “Pusher Lover Girl.” The duo collaborated on five of Timberlake’s studio albums.
Timberlake said in a video first released to the AP that the platform could be an avenue for creatives to connect, communicate and share music without being in the same room.
“For people to have access to this type of tech and platform where you can share stuff, I find it really inspiring,” he said. “It gets me excited to collaborate with people I’ve never even met. Even the stuff we’re working on right now with my record, it’s all Beatclub. It’s Tim bringing in people who he’s found through this platform and bringing them to me.”
Timbaland predicted Beatclub will be extremely rewarding and educational to members, who can keep all their music rights and revenue, set their own terms for pricing and retain their publishing royalties. The platform won’t take any additional income from subscribers.
“You’re learning financial literacy,” he said. “You’re learning about wealth and how to control money and the business. It’s your own business. It’s a place for their tools to get valued when they think they are not.”
Beatclub was named after Timbaland’s record label Beat Club, which launched the career of rapper Bubba Sparxxx nearly two decades ago. The label ultimately folded, but Timbaland had an epiphany one night to keep the name alive but with a different approach.
After he woke up, Timbaland instantly called his business partner Gary Marella — who worked with him on “Verzuz” — to tell him about his idea for the new digital platform. He felt encouraged to pursue the Beatclub idea after the success of “Verzuz” series, which has two musicians facing off in a song-against-song battle.
The series was acquired by Triller earlier this year. It has grown from being on Instagram Live to having in-person battles in front of an audience, and could head into the touring space, the producer says.
Timbaland said “Verzuz” improved his business savvy while the pandemic reprogrammed his self-awareness.
“‘Verzuz’ helped me dial back into my past,” he said. “It helped me with my people skills, and how to deal with people without getting emotional and stop being selfish. It taught me how to think about both parties, my business and coming to a solution. You see there’s a problem, but what’s the solution.”
Marella said he was immediately sold with the Beatclub idea when Timbaland called him.
“I think the world was a little ready for it,” said Marella, who helped put together a deal between Beatclub and the National Hockey League to provide custom music for the league’s top games like the Stanley Cup. The platform also partnered with IBM as part of the company’s mentorship program for startups to offer data protection, privacy and security solutions.
“There’s a couple other people in this space like Splice and BeatStars, who I can’t ignore and have been groundbreaking, forward thinking and disrupting the business in terms of beats licensing,” he continued. “But what better person to kick open the door than Timbaland. He’s leading the way for all these top-level producers, songwriters and even artists, telling them this is the future of the business.”
Timbaland calls this time of his life a rebirth after struggling with substance abuse, a divorce, being overweight and unhealthy a few years ago. But now, he has a renewed focus in his next phase after losing more than 100 pounds with a fresh scope on his entrepreneurial endeavors.
“I was reevaluating everything that was put in my life,” he said. “But I’m always a hustler. I’m always a pivot guy. … It’s about working smarter, not harder. That’s how I pivot.”