He’s making Justin Bieber and the Bee Gees go viral on TikTok
Last name: Haddrill Griffin
Hometown: Bozeman, Mont.
Currently lives: In a four-bedroom house in Las Vegas with walls covered in street art.
Fame claim: Mr. Haddrill is co-founder of VRTCL, an agency hired by major record labels to make songs go viral on TikTok through remixes, mash-ups, memorable chorus snippets, partnerships with creators and other algorithmic alchemies. “I usually start with the lyric sheet to see if there’s maybe a trend we can capitalize on or maybe a creative idea around the beat,” he said. For Lil Nas X’s “Montero,” That Meant Devil-Themed makeup tutorials and interpretative dance routines settled on the track. He also works with vintage hits like the Bee Gees”more than a woman”, which thanks to his efforts, has been featured in more than 279,000 TikTok videos, including sunset selfies, boba tea tutorials and cyst removals. Good music “makes influencers feel like they’re part of a cool, cultured moment, and they like to show fans that,” he said.
Big cut: Mr. Haddrill has always been in tune with music and business. When he was 12, he gave his father a business plan for high-tech headphones. At 16, he was musical director for Lake Gregory, an underground hip-hop artist, and 100Tribn, a DJ, while completing rehab in Salt Lake City for cocaine addiction. At age 20, he left San Jose State to pursue music management full-time in Las Vegas. In 2019, he and Sean Young, a former Vine influencer, saw how social media algorithms were starting to shape the habits of young listeners and founded VRTCL.
Last project: VRTCL, which Haddrill said brings in $1 million in monthly revenue and employs 18 people, was acquired in July by Create a music group, a data-driven music company in Los Angeles. Mr Haddrill, who remains chief executive, is cautious about the terms of the deal. “With upside potential, the acquisition is in the eight figures,” he said.
Next thing: Mr Haddrill helped turn Kid Laroi and Justin Bieber’s “Stay” and Saweetie and Doja Cat’s “Best Friend” into TikTok earworms last year. But his list of dream clients is older: Duran Duran, Billy Joel and other artists from the cassette era. “One song that I always thought could really explode again is ‘Believe’ by Cher,” he said.
Unlimited data: He recently hired Conover Wang, a former roommate and software engineer at Reddit, to develop a program to analyze TikTok song data, including views, comments and shares. “Software is really at the heart of our business, even if it doesn’t have a name yet,” he said. “We should probably call it something cool.”