Aaron Carter’s career, as we have known it, is over. After his initial blast-off success as a teen dream — with the image of innocence, boy-next-door sweetness — his management team failed to prepare him for the obvious transition from boyhood into late adolescence. He continued to try and appeal to his youthful audience, continued the innocent, boy-next-door approach, with only tentative attempts to reach beyond his core audience (with things like the appearance on Family Affair, talk of movies and some modeling.) What that means is that his sole readily available outlet, at this point, are those areas targeting young teens and kids — the fan magazines, pop records, tours, etc.
Then, BOOM! Aaron obliterates his image. For whatever the reason, the things that have happened — firing your mom, dissing her on tv, suing for emancipation, dredging up allegations of spousal abuse, discussions of divorce and child custody — are POISON in the part of the entertainment world that Aaron occupies. Other than copies of magazines already in production, I doubt we will ever see a picture of Aaron in any teen magazine ever again. He will not have a concert of the types he has done ever again. He will certainly never have another teeny-bopper album release.
It has nothing to do with whether he has fans. (Although reception for his album and his recent tour were his weakest ever.) It is simply that the people who put up the money for these types of shows avoid controversy like the plague (particularly since Aaron is now publicly proclaiming that his last tour appears to have lost money.) More than a few people who have been in the same position as Aaron saw their careers evaporate for that very reason, dating all the way back to when the lead singer of the Partridge Family posed almost naked for the cover of Rolling Stone, or when Leif Garrett almost killed his best friend in a car wreck. (These, and other examples, can be seen on VH1’s Behind the Music, where Aaron’s story is sure to be told someday.)
I say this as someone who is a real Aaron fan, but who has also been questioning for years several things: 1. The failure of his management team to prepare Aaron for a transition to an older audience, 2. The wisdom of using his mom as a manager, in the event that the inevitable decline in his popularity led to a need to seek new management (um..this sort of came true.) and 3. The failure to more aggressively pursue other avenues of entertainment, such as acting and modeling.
Now, the circumstances are bad. I strongly question Bob Carter in all this — I don’t remember ever hearing about him being a “co-manager” until this blow-up. If he was, then he would be part of the management company, which he is not. And remember: the first thing Aaron did was put out a statement saying that his dad needed somebody to join him as a co-manager. The idea that they are now reaching out to try and find some other “co-manager” means only one thing: Bob is not up to the task of the job, but doesn’t want to walk away from half of the 15 percent management fee that was his as a spouse. What decent manager is going to spend time in this lawsuit-laden mine field, so that they can earn half of their normal fee? If Bob can’t do the job — and there is no indication that he can — he should walk away from it, and turn Aaron over to a professional management agency that has nothing to do with this dreck.
Yes, folks, there is a strong possibility that this could all be nothing more than a dad manipulating his son to get a leg up on the financial settlement of a divorce. In fact, the whole “stolen money” story makes no sense. Aaron said she replaced it with an IOU — meaning that the management company still owes him the cash. Was it borrowed to finance the operations of the tour, because it wasn’t bringing in enough money to pay its expenses? Such a thing is usually allowed under a contract. And, if Bob is a co-manager, why would he allow this whole controversy to go public, thus damaging his client? If there was no choice in that, why would he not be ready to go, so fans don’t disappear? Did Aaron or Bob not realize that the management agency ran AC’s website? And if they did know it, why weren’t they ready to go with a replacement? The answer is kind of obvious…Bob is no manager.
So, where does this leave us? Bob Carter should step aside, as should Aaron’s mom — her professional relationship with Aaron is damaged beyond repair, they can only hope to reestablish personal ties. Aaron should be turned over to a professional manager, and then there should be a rethinking of his career.
The rethinking: Junk the innocent, kiddie stuff. That is over. For now, the music is probably over; the good-guy boy-next-door area of the entertainment business will not take him because of all the controversy, and — given Aaron’s sagging sales — no one is going to post the cash for a album that transitions him to an older audience (that should have been done when he had big sales.) That, by the way, is probably why there have been so many conflicting stories about Aaron’s future — the album Parental Advisory never materialized, the DVD got dropped from his current album. Nobody wanted to put up the investment.
So, Act 1 is over. What for Act 2? The model to follow Marky Mark. He was a limited rapper, with great controversy surrounding him (stories of racism, homophobia, etc.) He became a model, for Calvin Klein. From there, he took some SMALL parts in major movies, and took acting lessons. Now he is Mark Wahlberg, and headlines major movies.
Aaron has the looks to be a model. His acting needs work, and he should not try to headline some cheap, teen film, but work on getting small parts in real movies. Then, build up from there. At that point, he can return to music, with credibility, and do whatever he wants.
I know there will be folks whose response to this would be “Aaron knows everything, nothing he would be doing is not something he would choose. What do you know?”
Okay…one at a time.
How do I know that his tour did badly? Aaron said so. He returned from his performances overseas “owing money.” That, as anyone who knows the music business will tell you, is the result of a tour whose revenues did not cover its expenses. In other words, not enough tickets were sold to pay for the costs of paying for travel, promotion, lighting, dancers, insurance — all the dreck that goes into make a tour. Also, every newspaper review I saw of the tour commented on how the venues were fairly empty.
The idea that Aaron returned owing money because his mother took it is nonsense. First of all, that means that Aaron cleared less than $800,000 (if she took $800,000, and the tour is in the red..that’s the math.) That is a dismal profit margin. But more important, if that is the scenario, AARON OWES NOTHING. I don’t think you understand the concept of an IOU in business. That means the money is owed by the production company to Aaron. Aaron only owes money if he failed to clear his advance. (In other words, Aaron received a certain amount of money up front, common in all performances. Then, a percentage of the performance is credited to his advance. If he fails to meet his advance, he owes money.) There is no way that he would owe money for anything if his manager borrowed money from him. Aaron doesn’t pay the expenses — although he can be compelled to forgo some payments if the tour is not clearing its expenses, which can allow a management team to borrow against his payments. Folks, this is a world of contracts and lawyers, not one where people get money willy nilly and dish it out as they want. Aaron cannot be on the hook for something that he is not contractually obligated to pay.
As for the record sales, how do I know they are lagging? Let’s see — his last album opened on Billboard at #18. This one hasn’t even seen the top hundred. That is a lagging sales performance, and what leads record companies to drop promotion. And at this point, there is not another album in the pipeline.
As for Aaron not obliterating his image, all I can say to that is, let’s see. Within three months, the current round of mags, etc. will be done with, so anything already in the pipeline will be out. By then, we will know whether Aaron no longer appears much — if at all — in teen magazines, whether his record company is talking about a new album (remember — they haven’t paid for recording of new albums since Another Earthquake) and whether we see Aaron anywhere. Again, you can pound the table all you want, but the fact of the matter is that Aaron and his family don’t put up the money for this stuff, and the people who do don’t like controversy. That has been true for decades, no one has ever beaten it, other than performers who went in completely different directions (like Mark Wahlberg.)
Again, whether he has the right to fire his mom is not the issue. It is whether that does damage to his career. Macauley Culkin, the biggest child star ever, fired his dad as his manager in the midst of a bitter divorce — and immediately disappeared from the movie screens for almost a decade. He only reemerged as an adult, in an art film. He is now struggling with his career.
Perhaps Aaron is too busy to broaden his career horizons…sorry, that’s just silly. He has had one real album, a couple of new songs, and two tours in the last two years. The transition is always the most difficult thing facing any teen star. It cannot be ignored because someone is “too busy” — which Aaron is not, certainly not compared with other performers. No one — NO ONE, ever, never in history — has made the transition without a management team that focused on making it. That’s why there are so many depressed child stars, who failed to make the leap from child performances to adult. The ones who worked hard at the transition — Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears, Tom Cruise, Elijah Wood — accomplished that by making sure they didn’t do the same type of project over and over again, but instead did things to rip themselves away from their original image. (You think the Britney/Madonna kiss was an accident? Or the planning of good management trying to bury her kiddie background forever?)
As for Bob Carter — the man is advertising by press release that he needs a co-manager. Why wasn’t Aaron’s business management all lined up before he put out such a boneheaded release? Why not say “Aaron has shifted his management representation from his mom to IDB Management, which represents a gillion other stars? Instead, he makes Aaron look lame and desperate. He leaves him without a website — that is BASIC management. You can say “Oh, Aaron is so great, he doesn’t need a website. He can choose whatever he wants.” The guy barely has any radio play, outside of Radio Disney. (I am quoting Aaron on that.) He needs EVERYTHING he can get. Bob didn’t do it, because Bob is not a competent manager. As for him not being involved — go back and look at the CBS broadcast about Aaron Carter a year ago. His mom was all over it, they discussed Aaron’s management in detail. Bob was not mentioned ONCE! Aaron spent forever talking about what a great manager his mom was…Why did he diss his dad like that, if his dad was a co-manager? Because BOB WASN’T DOING IT. He wasn’t a co-manager until now.
As for why Aaron’s mom wouldn’t let him know that she borrowed the money — we don’t know that she didn’t. Aaron seemed to know pretty soon after the tour was over that she had left an IOU. As for the fact that it is borrowed — again, that comes from Aaron. He is the one who said that she left an IOU. He legally has the right to recover that money, unless there is some contractual provision that prevents it (Such as failure to cover expenses.)
Failing to see the damage that has been inflicted over the past few weeks does not help him. The longer he goes in this mess without real representation, the more damage that is inflicted. Why is it he doesn’t have new management yet? This is a business where careers disappear in a nanosecond. If the Carters can’t get their act together, the money will just drift towards other people who can.
Probably putting this out will not change the inevitable. But saying nothing, I strongly believe, means one thing for sure: That, unless Aaron and his family pull it together, within a couple of months, we will only hear from Aaron again on a “where are they now” broadcast in future years. Maybe I’m wrong. But I doubt it. It will only take a few short months to find out the last chapter in the Aaron Carter story.