Black Creators Were Promised Millions By a TikTok Rival. Some Are Now Heavily In Debt
By: Grace Zhang
David Warren age 22 moved from Hot Springs, Arkansas to Los Angeles so he could take classes five days a week at a dance studio near his home. He has raked up 500,000 plus followers on a platform called Tik Tok.
Warren had the assurance of stability in the form of a lucrative, one-year contract with Triller, a short-form video app that resembles TikTok in both appearance and functionality. In a November news release, Triller boasted that it had awarded contracts worth $14 million to 300 Black content creators, calling it "the largest ever one-time commitment of cash to Black creators." He was among them.
After interviews with over 2 dozen creators that were hired by Triller reported that their payments were delayed, cut, and some never even received a payment. A year after the company started to hire Black Talent, some of the interviewed creators asked to be revealed anonymous as to avoid beef with the company.
The Black influencers were promised $4,000 every month, with half paid in equity, far from "Triller money," according to documents seen by The Post. According to records examined by The Post, Warren used to provide content for platforms owned by them. Warren found the prospect of owning a stake in anything exciting because he was used to creating material on platforms run by other people.
However, many artists claim they are now forced to maintain a rigorous posting schedule and ambiguous standards that make it simple for the firm to oust people from the program while they deal with unclear payments.
Some creators received one month's income in late June, after The Post started covering the topic. Some authors started getting paid in arrears for work from earlier months in July.
According to email seen by The Post, dozens of creators were requested to sign a confidentiality agreement before receiving payment or else suffer "forfeiture of all equity consideration."
Some authors informed The Post they got notices from Triller indicating money for their work from May and June were being placed into their accounts as this story was being prepared for publication on Tuesday; several received mailed checks. One author said they received cash on Tuesday after waiting nearly a year to get paid for a partnership with TrillerTV.
Triller denies that there have been any issues with the compensation of creators. The company "has met its financial commitments to the creators in this program and will continue to do so," Triller Chief Executive Mahi de Silva said in a statement.
He said, “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.”
Numerous artists who entered into agreements with Triller assert that they are currently deeply in debt, in danger of eviction, and skipping meals in order to save as much money as they can.