Prof. Jerome Camal
Music History 5
The Legacy of ‘N Sync
When Chris Kirkpatrick was rejected from the Backstreet Boys in 1996, he created a boy group sensation that would sell over fifty million albums and revolutionize the music industry. ‘N Sync, named after the five members, Justin Timberlake, Chris Kirkpatrick, Joey Fatone, Lance “Lansten” Bass, and JC Chasez, started producing dance-pop music and gained popularity in Europe. Their American debut was a huge success because their music was popular with teens, which constituted a huge market. So when their second album, No Strings Attached, was released in 2000, it was a blockbuster in the American music market. Although many people credit the success of No Strings Attached to ‘N Sync’s preexisting popularity within the teen market, it was their marketing that led to the huge success of this album. By evaluating various technological approaches to music and taking advantage of the digital boom, ‘N Sync was able to revolutionize marketing techniques. These techniques had a significant impact on the music industry that continues to influence how we sell music.
The 1990s marked the beginning of a new trend of pop music when artists like Britney Spears and the Spice Girls started selling their music that became an instant hit with teens. According to Ellen Koskoff, this teen pop music differed from previous genres because it was dance music produced digitally with electronic instruments (2000, 692). As the popularity of this music grew, it led to an increased demand for music produced electronically. Consequently, more advanced recording procedures were developed to fuel America’s new musical trend. As recording techniques became more sophisticated, the music’s quality improved, which created a demand for more advanced audio storage devices. This led to a digression from cassette tapes, which were popular in the 1980s, to CDs, which were becoming easier and cheaper to produce while being able to hold more songs at a better quality than any previous form of musical recording. CDs became mainstream in the late 1990s, when pop music was close to reaching its apex, because that is when all popular artists like Britney Spears and the Spice Girls were producing teen pop music. But these artists mainly used concerts and TV appearances on MTV and other shows to market their music, which was effective because of their preexisting popularity but not revolutionary because these were the same practices used by preceding artists. As a result, we remember these artists for their hit tracks that appealed to America’s youth, not for lasting contributions they had to the music industry.
When ‘N Sync came to the states in the late nineties, it started a revolution that would come to redefine American pop music culture. They started producing dance pop music in Europe but released their first song in America, “I Want You Back,” in 1998. ‘N Sync originally had no concrete foundation in the American music industry, so their original sales were not impressive. But because their dance pop music was similar to the style Britney Spears and the Spice Girls produced, their music appealed to a mainly teen audience. As a result, they used The Disney Channel to air a concert on TV and later appeared on some TV shows popular with teenagers like “Sabrina, the Teenage Witch.” As ‘N Sync continued to appeal to the teen audience they began to become a more recognized group, which helped their sales because more people were listening to their songs. As a result, they had over ten tracks in Billboards’ Top 10 list within their first two years in America, including two albums in the Top 10 list at the same time. These tracks stayed in the top song charts for months sometimes. Billboard magazine’s David Morrison stated that ‘N Sync had stayed in the top spot for eight straight weeks at one point (2000, 2). Their huge success broke many records,...