I’ve been told by some of the richest and most successful people, that if you haven’t filed for bankruptcy at least once in your life, you’re doing something terribly wrong. Welp, in that vein, America’s largest radio station, iHeartMedia, and owner of iHeartRadio, has filed for bankruptcy under chapter 11. Apparently, the media company has been battling with debt for almost 10 years, since the company was acquired under some type of leveraged buyout. For the past year or so, iHeartMedia has been trying to restructure its debts, but its failure to pay a $106 million interest payment on February 1, even after a 30-day grace period was extended multiple times, has ignited the spark that has now ended in filing bankruptcy.
The 2008 acquisition wasn’t the only reason iHeart’s finances have taken a dive. With the rise of technology and the shift to digital platforms as the main source of music for consumers, brick and mortar radio stations, have slowly lost their audiences to the listeners who want to have more selection in what they hear and control over when they hear it. iHeart attempted to progress with the times and developed and implemented a streaming platform, but it hasn’t proven super successful given the nature of the streaming business.
iHeartMedia isn’t ready to throw the towel in yet, as it managed to reach an agreement with creditors (such as ASCAP, BMI, SoundExchange, Universal Music, Spotify, and Warner Music), holding over $10 billion in debt, making up half of the total debt owed by the media company. iHeart is hopeful that the agreement demonstrates support of the restructuring plan and the future success of the company in general. Some of its subsidiaries have already begun filing voluntary petitions for bankruptcy relief under chapter 11 as well. The bankruptcy proceedings will not interfere with the day-to-day operations of the company’s channels or radio stations, at least not now, anyway. And if the agreement is implemented and adhered to as planned, business should continue as pretty much usual.
That’s a common misconception with bankruptcy. People assume that you file for bankruptcy when you’re broke. But rich people file for bankruptcy all the time. And companies that are still fully functioning and making income, file for bankruptcy and continue to run their business. It’s a way to reduce all of the debts and liabilities that you have. It’s a way to get some creditors off your back, so you can figure out how to keep it moving without all that hanging over your head. And that’s exactly what iHeart is doing here. Relieving itself of half its debt, so that it can reinvent itself in the market and maintain its status as the largest radio station in the U.S.
Lerae Funderburg, Esq. is the Managing Attorney at Funderburg Law, LLC, an Atlanta based entertainment law firm. Lerae has almost 10 years of experience in entertainment law in both music law and film law. As an entertainment lawyer and blogger, Lerae keeps her viewers and subscribers up to date with entertainment legal news, especially in the areas of music. If you are local to Atlanta, call and set up a consultation! She would love to hear from you!