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'N Sync Level Fighting Words at Label [rolling stones]
'N Sync respond with harsh salvo in legal battle with label

The food fight disguised as a lawsuit between 'N Sync and its former label Trans Continental just got nastier. In written responses filed in federal court late Tuesday afternoon, group members insist they have been deceived by Trans Continental boss Lou Pearlman, "an unscrupulous, greedy and sophisticated businessman who posed as an unselfish, loving father figure and took advantage of our trust." The name-calling stems from the ugly breakup between multi-platinum `N Sync and Trans Continental, which has been playing out in public in recent months. During the summer, the boys, crying foul over their original Trans Continental contract, bolted to Jive Records. Trans Continental, joined by its U.S. partner RCA Records, went to court to prevent the move as well as to collect $150 million in damages. With `N Sync responses now on file, the two parties are expected to meet in a Florida court sometime this month. Don't look for any warm greetings, though.

According to the affidavit filed by `N Sync member Joshua Scott Chasez (a k a JC), Pearlman (who also hatched the Backstreet Boys) was not the force behind `N Sync's success, as he has claimed. Chasez testified Pearlman did not come up with the `N Sync name, was not responsible for grooming the boys' act, rarely attended rehearsals, was not present in the recording studio when the group recorded their first album.

In addition, according to Chasez, Pearlman refused to pass along a fair amount of album sales and merchandising earnings to the members, and urged them not to hire outside lawyers. Chasez testified that Pearlman, by naming himself the group's sixth member as well as business manager, took one-sixth of the earnings. Pearlman was also acting as the `N Sync manager (finding them work), and their business manager (taking care of the money).

Responding to the plea from Trans Continental that a judge put an injunction on `N Sync's scheduled album release with Jive, set for early 2000, Chasez testifies, "We are painfully aware that our careers may be brief...We are overdue for a new record and if we don't have one another group may capture the attention of our audience. An injunction may be the end of `NSYNC. However, we cannot work with people who have lied to us and taken advantage of us."

In response, Trans Continental and RCA parent BMG issued a joint statement which insisted, "The false and inflammatory rhetoric contained in the court papers filed [Tuesday] have no place in a court of law, where we are confident that the group's exclusive obligations to Trans Continental and BMG will be upheld."

-Eric Boehlert

'N Sync Throw The Next Legal Punch []

This legal battle just gets juicier and juicier. Now, in a counterclaim to the original $150 million lawsuit filed against the band by BMG Entertainment and Louis Pearlman's Trans Continental Media, 'N SYNC responds that Pearlman had been basically taking all of the money the group had earned and pocketing it for himself.

In addition, J.C. CHASEZ said in a legal statement that Pearlman was an "unscrupulous, greedy" businessman who, "while hugging us and calling us 'family' was picking our pockets, robbing us of our future and even endangering our health." (Referring to LANCE BASS, who was hospitalized with exhaustion in May.) He finishes with, "We are painfully aware our careers may be brief. In truth, our fans made us a success... an injunction may be the end of 'N Sync. However we cannot work with people who have lied to us."

-Sue Difranco

'N Sync, Trans Continental Clash Over Lawsuit []

The day after Louis J. Pearlman and his Trans Continental Media targeted his former proteges in 'N Sync with a $150 million lawsuit, parties on both sides of the case began to air their arguments in the court of public opinion.

As we first reported on Tuesday, Pearlman (the group's former guru), Trans Continental Media, Trans Continental Records, and BMG Entertainment (owner of 'N Sync's former label, RCA Records) filed suit against the boy band as well as Zomba Recordings, which owns the label that 'N Sync leapt to earlier this month, Jive Records.

The suit was prompted by 'N Sync's departure from RCA for the Jive roster, and Pearlman's legal team told MTV News earlier this week that the suit also "seeks to obtain a court order to prevent 'N Sync from existing" unless the group honors its management contract with Trans Continental Media and its recording contract with RCA.

Of course, 'N Sync views things a bit differently. "Trans Continental's conduct with regard to 'N Sync is the most glaring, overt and callous example of artist exploitation that the music industry has seen in a long time," the group argued in a statement issued to MTV News on Wednesday. "We look forward to the opportunity to air the full facts and will do so in the weeks to come."

In response, Pearlman's legal team claims, "Louis Pearlman and Trans Continental Records created, developed, financed and groomed 'N Sync and arranged, among other things, a very lucrative recording and distribution agreement with BMG that has been enormously beneficial to the group. They guided 'N Sync every step of the way through the often arduous process that led to the group's great success. Mr. Pearlman and Trans Continental have always acted in the best interests of the group and have tried for months to resolve any differences amicably. They have abided by the mutually agreed upon terms of their contracts, as they believe 'N Sync should, on legal and also on ethical grounds.

"Jive Records' scheme to violate Mr. Pearlman's and Trans Continental's exclusive rights with 'N Sync should sound a sour note throughout the music industry. It is absurd to think that now that the members of 'N Sync have been made rich and famous, they can just turn their backs on Mr. Pearlman and Trans Continental and go someplace else."

As the legal wheels begin rolling, 'N Sync will continue with the business of being 'N Sync. The group launches a U.S. tour on November 26 in Las Vegas and plans to release its next album on Jive Records early next year.

-Robert Mancini, with additional reporting by Kara Manning

'N Sync Hit With $150 Million Lawsuit []

Boy band 'N Sync and its brand spanking new label, Jive Records, have been slammed with a $150 million lawsuit filed Tuesday morning by former 'N Sync guru Louis J. Pearlman, his management team Trans Continental Media, Trans Continental Records, and BMG Entertainment, owner of 'N Sync's spurned label, RCA Records.

The lawsuit (filed in federal court in Orlando, Florida) also targets Jive Records' owner Zomba Recording and cites, among many alleged legal wrongdoings, breach of contract. One of Pearlman's lawyers told MTV News on Tuesday afternoon that the suit also "seeks to obtain a court order to prevent 'N Sync from existing" unless the group honors its management contract with Trans Continental Media and its recording contract with RCA.

As we reported earlier this month, 'N Sync announced that it was jumping from RCA Records and that Jive would release the group's next album in early 2000.

A spokeswoman for Jive Records told MTV News, "We have not been served with any papers from BMG or Trans Continental Records."

Last week, the Backstreet Boys also took a swing at Jive, charging that label with breach of contract and claiming that they were no longer on the label.

'N Sync's manager, Johnny Wright, was not available for comment as of press time.

-Kara Manning

Greenbacks And Red Tape: Sorting Out 'N Sync's New Deal []

The guys of 'N Sync were busy tearing up hearts onstage at the 1999 MTV Video Music Awards two weeks ago. Offstage, they were allegedly tearing up contracts.

Just hours before its performance, the group, apparently dissatisfied with the financial terms of its record deal, left its label, RCA Records, for the greener pastures of Jive Records and a deal reportedly worth some $12 million.

"This is very confusing to people, because ['N Sync's] deal with RCA wasn't up yet," observed Julie Gordon, Web master of "The Velvet Rope," an online network for music industry insiders.

Indeed, the move has industry types asking how a band at the height of its career can simply walk away from its unfulfilled contractual obligations to a record company.

As for 'N Sync fans, they've got an entirely different set of questions on their mind. For instance, how might the label change affect the release of the group's highly anticipated (and now-ironically titled) album "No Strings Attached," which was originally slated for November?

"We want the guys' album to come out now," one young female fan opined.

"I'm really anxious here, 'cause I'm like, I didn't like their Christmas [album] too much," another noted. "I hope this one's a lot better."

For anxious fans such as those, the news from the front isn't good.

"Typically, a band [in this situation] would not be able to release a record on a different label," Gordon explained. "The first label would go to court and secure an injunction preventing the release of that record, claiming that the band was legally obligated to them."

In fact, earlier this week, BMG Entertainment, RCA's parent company, issued a swift and terse statement that promised to "enforce [RCA's] rights vigorously." A prolonged legal battle could be perilous for a pop act like 'N Sync.

"'N Sync are trying to capitalize on the youth market," Gordon continued. "They're a young band. They have a certain look, they have a certain sound, and if their legal battle isn't settled until ten years from now, are we going to feel the same way about 'N Sync as we do now? Probably not. So I would assume that 'N Sync has good legal representation, and they've thought through how long they think it would realistically take to do battle and get this settled."

Sources close to 'N Sync claim that the band is on strong legal footing, thanks to contractual loopholes and clerical errors, that free the band not only from RCA Records, but also from Trans Continental Media, the Orlando-based boy-band factory (and onetime home to the Backstreet Boys) owned by teen pop svengali Louis J. Pearlman, who acted as the band's business manager.

"Backstreet looks at me as the sixth Backstreet Boy. I think 'N Sync looks at me, you know, also as 'Big Poppa,'" Pearlman told MTV News in October 1998. "I think that they all know that what I've done is from sincerity, from the heart."

"We learned a lot from Lou in the beginning," 'N Sync's Justin Timberlake told MTV News in September 1998. "Just talking over, like, percentages and how things work, how management deals work, how record deals work." It seems that the band paid close attention to those lessons. Like the Backstreet Boys did less than a year ago, 'N Sync, apparently unhappy with financial arrangements, is now reportedly attempting to sever ties with the man responsible for discovering and grooming the group.

"Do you guys own the 'N Sync name?" MTV News asked the group last year.

"Far as we know," Timberlake answered.

"We read our contracts," said bandmate Lance Bass. "Yeah, we do."

The guys didn't read the fine print, it seems. TransCon owns the name 'N Sync, not the group, so look for lots of legal wrangling all the way around.

"More than likely Jive and RCA would come to some kind of mutual arrangement," Gordon suggested. "And they'll probably work out some sort of arrangement so that they could both profit, as opposed to just putting this band on ice while they fought about it."

Even so, 'N Sync's manager, Johnny Wright, has already told MTV News that the group's nearly completed new album will definitely not hit stores before the year 2000.

If some are questioning 'N Sync's decision to leave RCA, others are questioning the decision to go to Jive, which is already home to Britney Spears and that other boy band, the Backstreet Boys.

"If I were 'N Sync, I would rather be on a label that didn't have the Backstreet Boys already," Gordon said. "I'd rather be on a label that would treat me as a unique new property. But you could argue that, well, look at what Jive Records has done for the Backstreet Boys. There's not a label out there that's going to understand better how to market and promote 'N Sync."

Speaking of which, how exactly do the Backstreet Boys, who reportedly left TransCon at least in part to get away from 'N Sync, feel about the arrival of their new labelmates? Sources say they're not happy.

Still, when MTV News caught up with 'N Sync just a few weeks ago, the group, which has apparently been quietly shopping itself since May, seemed more than confident about the future.

"Nobody can really hold us back from what we want to do and what we want to accomplish," Justin said.

Or can they? Stay tuned.

-James Fraenkel

'N Sync Are Talkin' Jive

      Time to round up the lawyers. Word that disgruntled pop millionaires 'N Sync are threatening to bolt their U.S. home at RCA Records for Jive Records has created quite a dust-up. Not only would the dramatic move deprive RCA of a sure-fire multi-platinum 'N Sync release that had been scheduled for the crucial holiday buying season this year, but it would also be an embarrassment of pop riches for Jive, whose roster already includes blockbuster acts the Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears. Combined, 'N Sync, BSB and Spears virtually created the current teen sensation that's been dominating the charts for the last eighteen months. (How big are the Big Three? Add them up and they've sold 27 million albums in America in just two years, according to SoundScan.)
      The deal though, is not done, and RCA's parent, BMG, intends to fight. "'N Sync is a BMG act and we will protect and enforce our rights vigorously," says a company spokesperson. (Jive's rep could not be reached for comment.)
      The deal could get particularly sticky since BMG owns twenty percent of Jive's parent, Zomba Music. BMG also distributes Jive releases.
      But how could members of `N Sync, even if they were grumbling about not seeing enough earnings from their mega sales, simply decide to up and leave their label? Record company contracts are notoriously complex, but `N Sync's deal is even more complicated than most. When the group first debuted, there was little appetite for teen pop at home so they originally signed to Transcontinental through BMG in Germany. When the group exploded overseas and wanted to put out records in America, `N Sync signed a licensing deal with RCA, which meant RCA marketed, promoted and profited from the band in the States. The question teams of lawyers will now have to wrangle over is whether or not 'N Sync has released enough records to fulfill the terms of their RCA licensing agreement. If they have, Jive may soon have pop's Murderer's Row. If not, RCA could get another crack with 'N Sync, although the label will almost certainly have to sweeten its original deal.

-Eric Boehlert

'N Sync Jumps To Jive Records; New Album Delayed []

The teen titans of 'N Sync have just signed a new distribution deal with Jive Records.

The group's manager, Johnny Wright, told MTV News on Monday that the move would likely delay the release date of 'N Sync's next album, which had been slated for November 16 by the group's former label, RCA Records.

According to Wright, "We don't want to rush the record out," and while a new single will hit radio by the end of the year, the album won't be out until early 2000.

When MTV News caught up with 'N Sync during a rehearsal for last week's MTV Video Music Awards, the group's J.C. Chasez talked about 'N Sync's new approach in recording this album.

"It's gonna have some more songs actually written by some more of the guys in the group and produced [by them] as well," J.C. told MTV News. "I think [there's] more heart in this album. I think we put a little more of ourselves into it. So we're excited about it."

The 'N Sync deal is a sweet one for Jive Records, which is already home to the group's blockbuster peers the Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears. One party that can't be too pleased, however, is the group's former label, which distributed 'N Sync's debut disc and Christmas album.

RCA Records, which is a unit of BMG Entertainment, issued a statement reading, "'N Sync is a BMG act and we enforce and protect our rights vigorously." In laymen's terms, that could mean legal action.

We'll keep you posted as to what happens.

-Kara Manning and John Norris

'N Sync in Contract Flap

      According to the Hollywood Reporter, 'N Sync has jumped ship from its previous label, Transcontinental, and has signed on with Jive, which has helped shepherd the success of Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys. While this might seem like a perfect match, it might not all go well for the Sync'ers
      Transcontinental's distributor, BMG, apparently has a problem with the move. "'N Sync is signed to Transcontinental, which has a licensing agreement with BMG," a spokesperson for BMG tells the Reporter. "We take that contract seriously and will enforce it vigorously."

-Wall of Sound