One year ago, only parents of Radio Disney-addicted children had heard of the Jonas Brothers. Today, 20-year-old Kevin, 19-year-old Joe and 16-year-old Nick Jonas are the epicenter of pop culture.
In the past year, the Jonas Brothers’ “Burning Up” tour sold out, they won six Teen Choice Awards, they were the youngest group to grace the cover of Rolling Stone, and their album “A Little Bit Longer” became the third-biggest debut of the year, selling 525,000 units.
The secret to their success: humble pie, hard work and Disneyfication.
A failed first album with Columbia Records (“It’s About Time”) did succeed in finding them an admirer in Disney, which signed the band to Hollywood Records. The label masterminded a flawlessly timed layering of events.
“It was the perfect storm,” says Ken Bunt, senior VP of marketing for Hollywood Records. “Their first album (with Hollywood) was released, followed by the Miley/Hannah tour, then their own headlining tour in spring of ’08. ‘Camp Rock’ came out followed by their headline arena tour. It was sustained growth over the last 18 months to two years.”
Meanwhile, the Jonas Brothers grew a fervent following by establishing a “we are just like you” relationship with their fans, offering insights into their personalities via goofy videos on MySpace and YouTube. Their concerts are rife with silly pranks, water squirting, rubber chicken throwing, cartwheels and pyrotechnics. The trio has even been known to bring bagels and cocoa to those in line to buy concert tickets.
“We want to make the Jonas Brothers experience an event,” says oldest brother Kevin. “When you want to see ‘Camp Rock,’ then you have a Camp Rock party with all of your friends. When we have an album, then you’re the first one waiting in line to go buy it the midnight before the Tuesday.”
They reward such devotion, showing up at the Virgin Mega-store in Times Square to greet the 800 people waiting in line to buy their self-titled Hollywood Records album when it was released.
That approach paid off. When “A Little Bit Longer” was released in August, “There were 15,000 people in line to buy the album. They had to shut down Times Square,” Bunt says.
“We have a different connection with our fans,” Kevin says simply.
Recent breakthrough: The trio had three albums in the top 10 at once, and a hit DVD in “Camp Rock.” Their tour was such a hit, Disney shot a 3-D concert movie (a la “Hannah Montana”).
Role model: “Stevie Wonder, the Bee Gees, all of those guys.”
What’s next: “Our TV show for the Disney Channel, called ‘J.O.N.A.S.,’ will be a lot different for us because we’re a touring band. We’re really excited to see how it is.”