The Downward Spiral of TVT Records

How the ambitious NYC indie nearly brought artists from Ambulance LTD to Lil Jon down with it

Congleton isn't the only former TVT artist affected by the bankruptcy. Lil Jon's Crunk Rock was five years in the making before its release this summer, stalled first by the rapper's beef with Gottlieb, then shelved for close to two years during the label's bankruptcy proceedings and negotiations with the Orchard, which eventually released Jon from his contract. The r&b singer Teedra Moses followed her old label's lead after TVT went under: She filed for bankruptcy. Default's Smith says his band would have folded entirely if not for its strong following back home, where the band continued to tour while the release of its latest album, Comes and Goes, was delayed. "If it wasn't for Canada, I don't think we'd still exist as a band," he says. The record hits U.S. stores later this month.

A deal between Ambulance and the Orchard seems unlikely, given hard feelings over the online-catalog issue. Congleton maintains that the company is simply not equipped to handle new releases: "They're not a real record label. They're just a digital distributor. They don't physically press or sell CDs, and they don't offer recording funds, marketing budgets, or tour support. They only sell music online."

Ambulance LTD's Marcus Congleton, doing his best to survive "financial sodomy"
Ambulance LTD's Marcus Congleton, doing his best to survive "financial sodomy"

For its part, the Orchard, which has recently released albums (available both physically and digitally) from former TVT artists the Cinematics and Dude 'n Nem, as well as a digital-only release by the Holloways, says it's ready to fill the void left by its predecessor. Says Jaclyn Ranere, the Orchard's VP of digital marketing: "We're honoring our commitments with respect to the artist agreements we've picked up."

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