Variety looks into how popular rap battle 'Verzuz' landed on Apple Music

Apple Music on iPhone
Apple Music on iPhone (Image credit: iMore)

What you need to know

  • Apple Music brought rap battle "Verzuz" to the platform last month.
  • The battle previously featured Snoop Dogg and DMX.
  • Variety has the story of how it all came to be.

Apple Music and Beats 1 got to bring rap battle "Verzuz" to the masses last month after a deal was signed that also included Twitter. But how does such a deal come about and what needs to happen to get the show off the ground? Variety looks into all that and more.

One of the obvious reasons that a "Verzuz" partnership with Apple Music made sense was the inclusion of licensed music. But it wasn't the only music streamer interested.

Competing streaming services saw opportunity, which led to a bidding war won by Apple Music, largely due to a strategic combination with Twitter, where much of the social conversation around the battles was taking place. After a pair of test runs, the integration launched officially in late July with the Snoop-DMX matchup. Apple Music's Larry Jackson was the connector, bringing Twitter to the mix with Swizz and Timbaland — both of whom he's known since his days as a label executive in the early 2000s. Exact terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Sometimes it isn't just what you know, it's who you know, too.

While Apple Music did the heavy lifting, Apple's Jackson also points out that it was the addition of Twitter that made the whole thing truly special.

"I think Tim and Swizz were blown away by what we were able to offer — 1080p high-definition video and high-fidelity audio, coupled with something we've never done at Apple, which is the social-engagement interface," Jackson tells Variety. "These kinds of broadcasts are usually a linear video stream with no social-chat engagement, and it was really important to figure out that element. So Jack [Dorsey, Twitter co-founder and CEO] opened up the coding, engineering and design teams at Twitter to help us integrate it into the live broadcast. You're seeing the manifestation of that work now; with Snoop and DMX we had GIFs and emojis as part of the inline social element."

You can read the full piece over on Variety and it's a great place to spend a few minutes today. Especially if you're at all interested in the magic that is "Verzuz".

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.