Baby, Bye Bye Bye…
December 29, 1999- After a nail-biting court battle, ‘Nsync says “Bye Bye Bye” to Transcon Records.
‘Nsync celebrates with their fans by sending out a letter via the fan club:
And media celebrate by spreading the word…
Rolling Stone, December 1999:
‘N Sync and Trans Con Settle
It’s official: Meet pop music’s new Dream Team. Jive Records’ lineup of sluggers, already anchored by the Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears (who posted the No. 1 and No. 2 selling albums of 1999, respectively), just landed more firepower. Empowered by a preliminary victory in Orlando federal court last month, `N Sync announced an out-of-court settlement on Wednesday with their old record company, which clears the way for the five boy wonders to join Jive’s roster of pinup stars. (Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the agreement rules out a full-blown, tug-of-war trial over the group.) Combined, the three mega-platinum acts of `N Sync, BSB and Britney are among the biggest in the business. And all three plan on releasing new Jive albums next year. First up will be `N Sync’s latest, No Strings Attached, due in stores on March 7.
It was the release of that record, and the contentious battle over which label would profit it from it, that set off the music industry’s nastiest legal skirmishes in years. The showdown featured `N Sync and Jive up against the group’s former business partners, Trans Continental Records and its larger worldwide partner BMG (owners of RCA Records). The boys claimed that they had been exploited and betrayed. Their counterparts insisted that the five `N Sync members were ungrateful and greedy, arrogantly walking away from a binding contract. As one of the many lawyers involved summed it up in court, “This case is about nothing, nothing but money.”
For fans to fully understand the nearly year-long behind-the-scenes battle, they have to go back to the early spring when `N Sync, coming off sales of nearly ten million albums in America and generating $300 million in revenue worldwide, began renegotiations discussions with their record company, Trans Continental. The wrangling limped along for months until the increasingly frustrated members of `N Sync — Justin Timberlake, Joey Fatone, Lance Bass, Chris Kirkpatrick and J.C. Chasez — decided to terminate their Trans Con deal and sign on with Jive.
“They got to the end of renegotiations, they didn’t like what they were getting, so they played the termination card,” said Trans Con lawyer Michael Friedman, prior to the settlement announcement. He insisted that Trans Con and BMG were more than willing to enrich the group’s contract so it reflected their superstar status (i.e. increase their royalty rate, give the group more money up front for each album).
If the talks were a game of chicken, said `N Sync manager Johnny Wright, then Trans Con and BMG executives “didn’t think these five [`N Sync] guys had the balls to go through with it.” [cont'd here]
Rolling Stone, March 30, 2000:
With their second album, “No Strings Attached,” ‘N Sync cut the ties that bind and step out on their own
Posted Mar 30, 2000
The members of ‘N Sync are at their very own Neverland Ranch: the 32,000-square-foot (and growing) lakeside Orlando home of their manager, Johnny Wright, which also serves as the headquarters for his company, the Wright Stuff. The living room is packed with arcade games ranging from Ms. Pac-Man to Mortal Kombat, an old-fashioned Coke machine, a pool table, foosball, two varieties of air hockey (with and without little plastic men) and a sound system bookended by six-foot speakers. Next door, a two-lane bowling alley is under construction in a wing that will also house a dance studio.
Teen-dream decor abounds: a Lucite banister lit from within, a seven-foot glass palm-tree trunk topped by a fern, a dining room dominated by a giant fish tank and a black monolithic running-water sculpture. Outdoors, a sand volleyball court awaits, along with a putting green (with sand trap), a boat and Jet Skis for lake-top frolicking, a basketball court, a tiki bar, a hot tub and a pool with a waterfall. The only thing missing is a ticket booth.
At the moment, though, these diversions are about as important to Lance Bass, Justin Timberlake, Chris Kirkpatrick, Joey Fatone Jr. and JC Chasez as extra credit is to a graduating senior. The ‘N Sync-ers — who range in age from nineteen to twenty-eight — are gathered in a loose semicircle to listen to final mixes of songs from their second album, No Strings Attached. Wright cues up “Space Cowboy,” a fast-paced party track with a round-’em-up refrain that goes something like, “ya-ya-yippi, yippi-i, yippi-ay.” As the beat kicks in, the band members begin to gesticulate as if onstage, seeming to work out their moves for the number. Chasez, who splits lead-vocal duties with Timberlake, fibrillates head to toe as the song kicks into the first chorus. Timberlake, meanwhile, sits and sings his lines softly as he head-bobs along. Bass leans back in a chair, his finger moving up and down as if following a bouncing little white ball. Fatone hunches over, singing to the ground, while Kirkpatrick grooves along abstractly.
The song ends, and Wright breaks out gifts for his wonder boys: platinum and diamond ‘N Sync pendants to commemorate the diamond status — 10 million sold — of ‘N Sync, their debut. A few hoots erupt, and a discussion of the proper chain to hold such a piece ensues. Timberlake looks at his and stands up.
“We are diamond,” he says mock-righteously. “Screw all of you. I’m done. Forget this boy-band thing.”
For his sake, he’d better be kidding. His next batch of time off is scheduled for sometime in 2001.
‘N Sync are riding high. In the past year, they won an out-of-court royalties settlement with their former management company that left them rich. They also successfully jumped labels, gaining increased creative control over their second album along the way. But they’re a hungry bunch. An eye-of-the-tiger-like desire to prove oneself emanates from each one of them.
“This album is really in your face,” says Chasez. He speaks deliberately, punctuating his statements with sudden volume changes and jabbing hand gestures. He is friendly but focused, clearly somebody uneasy when aimless. “Nothing is sang passively; everything is chopped and punched. You can definitely hear a Michael Jackson influence in the way the words chop off — that’s the way Michael delivers a line.”
“There’s a little more edge to this album, a little more grit,” agrees Timberlake, whose laid-back Tennessee drawl and homeboy delivery belie an attentive, guarded persona. “We’re pissed off now — that’s what it is. We’re angry white boys who didn’t get our props. No, I’m kidding — I’m kidding.”
He may not be. ‘N Sync were pissed off enough to take legal action against Trans Continental Management, the Learjet/Chippendales dancers/boy-band empire of Orlando entrepreneur Lou Pearlman, who, like a pudgy Keebler elf, has churned out boy bands like so many Fudge Stripes Cookies. To date, he’s brought the world the Backstreet Boys, LFO, C-Note and Phoenix Stone, and he’s grossed more than $2 billion — enough to refinance a small nation. Convinced they weren’t seeing their share of the profits, ‘N Sync announced they were leaving Trans Con and RCA. Pearlman responded with a $150 million lawsuit; ‘N Sync countersued for $25 million. The two parties settled out of court. Then the band left RCA, in spite of the fact that it owed the label one more album.
The group recorded much of No Strings without a record deal, making its own calls on producers and songwriters. “We hired the people we wanted to hire,” Chasez says. “This is our record. The record company didn’t send anyone to us. It was a sticky situation. A lot of creative people we approached didn’t want to work with us. We didn’t have a contract saying that any of these songs would make it on the album when we did get a new deal. So the people who worked with us were straight up about the music. And that was amazing.”
“I think we really made history,” says Timberlake. “You know, the only other group I can think of that jumped to another record company was Boston. And they did it, like, a long time ago. But that’s the music business – I love the music, and I hate the business. I don’t want this whole thing to seem dark, but we learned how people can take advantage of you.” [cont'd here]