TVT Records Files For Bankruptcy

AllHipHop.com reports this week that TVT Records (voted Billboard’s top independent label for 5 consecutive years between 2001 and 2006, and home of popular rap artists Pitbull and Lil John) is expected to file for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection this week.

The label terminated most of its employees yesterday (February 18th). It’s not known how the bankruptcy filing will affect the label’s release schedule, but the move is expected to make unrestricted free agents of Lil John and Pitbull.

This is the latest in a long string of bad fortune for the label. Just weeks ago, Pitbull lashed out at his label, telling fans to stop buying his new album The Boatlift. Pitbull’s claim was that the label had inadequately promoted his latest release, placing most of the blame on TVT’s founder, Steve Gottlieb.

TVT was also invloved in a legal battle against Island Def Jam when that label refused to allow TVT the right to release compilation recordings containing rapper Ja Rule. While an initial ruling awarded TVT Records $132 million dollars in damages, the figure was soon voided to zero on appeal.

It’s fairly obvious that the economic downturn that has hit the music industry in recent years also played a role in the demise of TVT. The moral of this story for us indies? If a label that was the biggest independent in the world for 5 years running can fold financially just two years later, then what independent label is safe?

Update (2-19-08): Steve Gottlieb Talks to Billboard, says, “This is not the end of TVT.”

Update (2-20-08): NY Times columnist Jeff Leeds provides even more insight into the TVT Records bankruptcy.

Update (2-21-08): AllHipHop.com Exclusive — Pitbull talks about the TVT Records bankruptcy, says, “it’s unfortunate that it came to this, but it’s a very fortunate situation for the artists. That puts us one step closer to freedom.”

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