After six years with the label, the siblings reclaimed their masters and are now free agents.
The Jonas Brothers have parted ways with Hollywood Records after releasing three albums on the Disney-owned label. Comprised of siblings Nick, Kevin and Joe Jonas, the trio, which has sold 17 million albums worldwide, also bought back the rights to their master recordings, merchandising and publishing for an undisclosed sum.
This was a decision that we made as a group,” Nick Jonas tells The Hollywood Reporter. “Naturally, as with any partnership, when you do part ways, there is emotion tied to it. We've been blessed to have a lot of success with Hollywood and with Disney, but speaking on behalf of my brothers and our team, we're all looking forward to this next chapter. We're ready for that next step as a group, and being able to take our work with us was so important.”
When contacted by THR, a Hollywood spokesperson commented, “Hollywood Records and Jonas Brothers have amicably ended an amazingly successful partnership after six years. … We couldn’t have asked for better partners or nicer people to work with. We wish Nick, Kevin, and Joe all the best in their future endeavors.”
It’s a rarity these days for a band with Jonas-level success -- the kind that includes sold-out arena shows, world tours, movie and TV specials -- to successfully reclaim their catalog (for a hefty price, typically a percentage based on past sales and estimated future earnings), but to hear manager Johnny Wright tell it, the opportunity couldn’t be passed up. “We could stay or we could go,” he says of the negotiation, which came after the band had met its obligations to the label. “This will allow them to chart their own destiny.”
It will also allow the the band to look at additional ancillary income from digital initiatives such as apps and live concert streaming, technologies that barely existed when the web-savvy JoBros signed with Hollywood in 2007 (with masters that they had wrested from Columbia Records after the Sony label dropped them). And then there’s the most lucrative stream of all: publishing, which can take the form of valuable synchs and movie placements, foreign territories, sheet music, you name it.
“The industry and distribution channels are changing so rapidly, we don’t even know what it means anymore to put out a record,” says Wright. “If we wanted to take another deal with a major, it would be a different than what we entered into when we signed with Hollywood. We don't have to become just an artist to the label, we could be a partner or do it ourselves and then come back later on. There’s no plan here -- the plan is whatever we decide to make it.”
Wright readily admits, the Jonas Brothers had outgrown Disney, something that became evident as they contemplated their exit. “In having a conversation about moving forward, we knew we weren’t going to do a Jonas show on Disney Channel and the likelihood of us doing movie in that vein was not there so the big platforms were not really accessible to us anymore,” says the veteran manager, who has represented Justin Timberlake since his NSync days.
Besides, the guys longed to take some time with a new album (their last, Lines, Vines and Trying Times, came out in 2009) without the pressure of a deadline. “We don't have to have a record out under any time constraints so they’re free to just create and explore and do it at their own pace,” says Wright. “And they're enjoying it.”
Indeed, adds Nick Jonas: “In these past three years, my brothers and I have not released a record, but we've really come into our own as men. And we've also lived life, which is an important part to making a record. … I've got a studio set-up in my apartment in New York where we can all put down our ideas. It's a really liberating feeling to just be able to create and write whatever is on our hearts.”
Wright says to expect a new Jonas Brothers album by the end of 2012 or early 2013. In the meantime, the guys are putting into motion their own plan for imaging, even introducing a new logo (see right). But in turning from “boys to men, to use that cliché,” he adds that this is a band that hasn’t yet peaked worldwide. And with all that they do both as a group and individually -- among their side-projects, the E! reality show Married to Jonas starring Kevin Jonas and new wife Danielle Deleasa (a co-production of Jonas Enterprises and Ryan Seacrest Productions), Nick’s role on Broadway’s How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and NBC’s Smash, a new feature film for Joe Jonas and plans to sign acts to their own production or publishing company -- there’s no telling where the Jonas train will lead them. But one thing is for sure: they’re driving it.
“What the Jonas Brothers have already done in the music business, most people will never get to,” says Wright. “Now it's chapter two, where they take those experiences and lessons and music and have all the control in putting it together and making a great business plan moving forward.”