Ever wonder just how much more financially successful than you the Jonas Brothers are, even though they aren’t old enough to drink yet? Well, Portfolio has helpfully broken it down, and while they’re not at MIley Cyrus-levels of world domination yet, experts seem to think they have much more potential for staying power, even in the face of clothing line adversity.
For all of that hoopla, however, the band’s reported earnings for the past year–about $12 million, comprised of touring and CD and merchandise sales–are as modest as their values (the boys, ages 15-20, wear “purity rings” to signify their commitment to sexual abstinence).
The $12 million figure landed them on Forbes magazine’s list of top-earning celebrities. But it’s not nearly enough for the Jonases to challenge, much less dethrone, billion-dollar pop star Miley Cyrus as the Queen of Tween.
Her reign may be waning, though, as gossip in Seventeen magazine (ironically, about her relationship with 15-year-old Nick Jonas) and racy photos in Vanity Fair have soured her image with some young fans.
The Jonas Brothers are a different matter. The group signed with Hollywood Records in December 2006 after a stint at another label as a Christian rock group. Their first album with Hollywood went platinum, but only lately have the boys begun to exploit other avenues to media dominance.
Perhaps the Jonas Brothers could put out a line of purity rings? Nothing feeds teen girls’ hormones quite like abstinence paraphernalia.
The Jonases are likely to stick with Disney for the near future, since their Disney Channel show and movie have yet to launch. But it’s an open question whether those projects will be anywhere near as successful as Cyrus’s, whose 3-D tour movie has grossed $70 million worldwide so far and whose show, Hannah Montana, averages 3 million viewers an episode.
“There’s no doubt that they’re incredibly successful, that they are incredibly versatile, and that they have the stamp of approval from parents,” says Michael Wood, vice president of TRU, a market-research firm in Northbrook, Illinois, of the Jonas Brothers. “But I think it is more of a stretch in terms of playing in all of those categories.”
If you’re Miley Cyrus, Wood says, your fans want to be you–they will buy your records, wear your clothes, and buy anything branded with you, from perfume to chocolate.
“It’s very different for the Jonas Brothers,” Wood adds. “Are young guys going to want to dress like them? I’m not so sure. I think gender alone will be somewhat of a challenge.”
This is a really solid point. No matter how precious the Jonas Brothers may look to countless girls and women, they will probably never be able to pull off a clothing line since most boys ages 13-18 tend to lean more towards Plain White T’s-style bro gear. Though it would be hilarious if they actually could inspire a snazzy vest fad among middle-school boys.
In the end, the surest bet for the brothers may be to face the music–literally.
“Miley Cyrus was built by a TV show,” says Bob Lefsetz of the Lefsetz Letter, a music industry newsletter. He sees the Jonas Brothers as a more authentic, and therefore more sustainable, phenomenon.
“They had a deal with Sony before Hollywood Records. They play their own instruments, have a hand in writing their songs,” Lefsetz says.
Because of that, the group might expect “a longer sales arc with less high peaks.” Lefsetz agrees the act has major earning potential, but won’t speculate as to how much.
While the claim that they “play their own instruments” may be a tad overblown (they do appear to play guitars now and then, but they’ve always got a full band of middle-aged studio dudes standing behind them), it is true that they’re a lot more musically solid than most bands of their ilk. Case in point: the VMA-nominated “Burnin’ Up.”
Not a bad song at all. Who knows? One day they may even be rich because of their music, rather than their beautiful brown hair and tight pants.