Last year, a teen pop act known as the Jonas Brothers nearly washed out of the music industry. The group's 2006 debut album on Columbia Records sold poorly and is now out of print. Today, just a handful of the band's songs are available for download on Apple Inc.'s iTunes Store, the Wall Street Journal reports.


But less than a year after its near-flameout, the group is a candidate to conquer the lucrative kids' music market. Now signed to Walt Disney Co.'s Hollywood Records, the teenage trio will release a second album next month. Based on early retail orders and fan interest, people in the music industry say it is likely to debut in the top 10 of the Billboard 200 album chart. Disney is also grooming the boys -- 14-year-old Nick Jonas, 19-year-old Kevin and 17-year-old Joe -- as television stars.


The shift from near-has-been status to frenzied anticipation highlights important shifts in the music industry -- ones that may not bode well for traditional industry powerhouses like Columbia. Disney has made a cottage industry of cross-pollinating stars between its cable television Disney Channel and its record labels and Radio Disney network. It has generated millions of album sales for performers like Miley Cyrus in its TV show "Hannah Montana," about a high-school student who's also a pop singer, and various cast members from the made-for-TV "High School Musical."


Disney's success in cranking out one hot "tween" act after another highlights how the big labels are struggling more than ever to capitalize even when they have potential stars on board. This comes at a time when prepubescent children are considered some of the few remaining reliable purchasers of music. Last year, 10- to 14-year-olds spent $875 million on CDs and song downloads, the Recording Industry Association of America estimates.


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