TVT Records, once hailed as Billboard’s top independent label and home to artists such as Lil Jon, Pitbull and Ying Yang Twins, will file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy this week, company head Steve Gottlieb tells Billboard.com. “This is not the end of TVT,” he insists.
Founded in New York in 1985, TVT rose to notoriety after releasing music by Nine Inch Nails and KMFDM. In recent years, the label has focused on hip-hop, scoring a series of hits with the aforementioned artists.
But TVT has also been embroiled in legal battles, including a suit against Island Def Jam over a Ja Rule album that IDJ prevented TVT from releasing in 2003. The initial ruling awarded TVT $132 million in damages, but the figure was substantially reduced on appeal.
TVT also battled Miami label Slip-n-Slide over rights to a Pitbull album, eventually losing and being ordered to pay compensatory damages of almost $2.3 million and punitive damages of over $6.8 million.
Just a few weeks ago, Pitbull lashed out at TVT in an interview with Los Angeles radio station KPWR, claiming it didn’t properly promote his new album, “The Boatlift.” “I’m out here working like a slave, doing things that other artists don’t even know how to do. A label’s there to further and promote your career, but it feels like they just keep holding me back,” said Pitbull, who asked his fans not to buy the album.
There is no word on a possible release date for Lil Jon’s new album, “Crunk Rock,” which has been delayed numerous times, or forthcoming releases from any of the label’s acts.
According to a source close to the situation, a video was just shot for a new Pitbull single, “Anthem,” and the track will likely be worked to radio. There’s also a new Ying Yang Twins single, “Drop,” on iTunes.
But other acts might be snapped up by new labels. “Yo Gotti is a prime candidate as a free agent to go,” says a source. “He’s done his part as an artist, and although he’s a little under the radar and people in New York don’t know him that well, other majors like maybe Def Jam or Universal, whom he had a previous deal with, might want to pick him up.”
Teedra Moses, who’s still working on her sophomore TVT album, “Young Lioness,” could look elsewhere as well, according to a source.
TVT Music Publishing will not be closed, according to Gottlieb. “That’s the only part that hasn’t had layoffs,” says a source. “People have left and they haven’t hired new replacements, but everyone I know in publishing as of yesterday is still working. Although, the people still remaining are just there to fill orders and deal with overdue accounts payable.”