The Jonas Brothers went on Good Morning America to talk about their break-up this morning. "I think it was time," said Kevin Jonas. "And for us it took some time getting there, but we feel like it's time that the Jonas Brothers came to an end."
He's almost certainly right. The Jo Bros haven't been a real commercial force since sometime around 2009, and the rise of Justin Bieber and One Direction made them wildly irrelevant to all but the most die-hard fans. Back in 2008, they sold out arenas all over the country in seconds, but by last summer they were struggling to fill amphitheaters. A show this past July at Toronto's Molson Ampitheater (capacity 16,000) sold a mere 6,000 seats, and many of those people got discounted tickets via Groupon.
I'm sure the inevitable furious commenters on this article will disagree, but the Jonas Brothers were spiraling down towards the state fair and club circuit. The singles from their (supposedly) upcoming album V failed to do much of anything, and the mainstream media didn't pay them the least bit of attention until rumors began swirling that they were breaking up.
With ticket and albums sales quickly vanishing, the Jonas Brothers faced some tough choices. They could either continue playing to a rapidly diminishing audience and face some sort of Backstreet Boys situation, or they could pull a Fall Out Boy and call it quits. They went for the latter option, and for the first time in recent memory they were trending on Twitter and getting flooded with media requests. What group goes on Good Morning America days after they break up? That's not usually how these things go down, unless it's part of a larger plan.
Once a group stops scoring hits, their best chance of continued success is to cash in on nostalgia. But nostalgia is a funny thing. It takes time to grow, and the growth rate varies wildly by group - and it develops a lot slower when the group refuses to go away. 'N Sync's (super brief) reunion at the VMA's was met by hysterical squeals and Tweets earlier this year, but the Backstreet Boys would have likely garnered only a fraction of the response. That's because the Backstreet Boys have been hammering out the hits on the old the oldies circuit for years, while 'N Sync have been lying dormant. With each year they were gone, the nostalgia factor grew. They could easily do an arena tour now, and that would probably be the case even if Justin Timberlake hadn't become a solo superstar.
The Jonas Brothers are pleading "musical differences," but if their last few singles had topped the charts we imagine these differences would suddenly vanish. This move paves the way for their inevitable reunion tour. They just need to wait until the tweens of 2007 start feeling nostalgic. That'll probably be sometime around 2020, but odds are high they won't be able to wait that long. Fall Out Boy got itchy trigger fingers after just four years out of the limelight, but it's impossible to say how well the whole thing would have done had they not released a killer new single with "My Songs Knows What You Did in the Dark (Light Em Up)." The Jonas Brothers had very few songs that appealed to anybody older than fourteen, so they'll have to really bring the goods if they want to be back in arenas anytime before the 2020s.
Any way you look at it, a break-up was the best of their very bad options at this point. (Let the furious flood of comments by Jonas Brothers fans begin!)
This article originally appeared on Rolling Stone: Why the Jonas Brothers Are Smart to Call It Quits