YouTube film looks at Backstreet Boys, 'N Sync creator who scammed bands

NEW YORK • The groundwork was not unlike that put in by today's aspiring K-pop artists.

In 1995, when Lou Pearlman created boyband 'N Sync, he made the five members fine-tune their craft for up to eight hours a day in non-air-conditioned airplane hangars.

So when success came after extensive touring to promote their music, member Lance Bass expected to get at least a decent pay cheque.

"I open up the envelope, I see the cheque, and oh, my gosh, my heart sunk. I couldn't believe the number I was looking at.

"The cheque was US$10,000. And not to sound ungrateful… but when you compare it to how many hours we had put into this group for years, it didn't even touch minimum wage. At all."

His account is among those shared by other musicians in The Boyband Con: The Lou Pearlman Story, which is streaming on YouTube Premium, reported USA Today.

Pearlman considered himself a band member and helped himself to a sixth of the profits.

This was a sore point for the mother of 'N Sync member Justin Timberlake, who felt Pearlman was a cheat. "Every parent is protective of their child," said Ms Lynn Harless. "Like everybody else, I just wanted to kill him."


'N Sync and boyband Backstreet Boys, whom Pearlman also launched, later sued him over unfair distribution of the earnings.

He spent the money on, among other indulgences, a lavish house which resembled a "giant theme park".

Pearlman died in prison in Florida in 2016 while serving a 25-year sentence for organising a fraud scheme.

'N Sync went on hiatus in 2002, while the Backstreet Boys continue to perform.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 09, 2019, with the headline 'YouTube film looks at Backstreet Boys, 'N Sync creator who scammed bands'. Print Edition | Subscribe