Gene Simmons Gives The People A Lesson In Economics

Nov 14th, 2007 // 21 Comments

74081775.jpgGene Simmons’ areas of expertise don’t just extend to ladies of the night and plastic surgery; he’s also well-versed in the value of a dollar, as evidenced by his willingness to license the KISS brand to anything and everything that it can be slapped on. So naturally, he has some thoughts about the current “recorded music should be free” rhetoric that’s sweeping the bandwidth-blessed nooks of the world, and guess what? Where some techno-utopianists see a beautiful world of free songs for all, he sees nothing but a bunch of flawed business models and freckled crooks.

It has been nine years since we’ve seen a new KISS album. Any plans to get back into the studio?
The record industry is in such a mess. I called for what it was when college kids first started download music for free — that they were crooks. I told every record label I spoke with that they just lit the fuse to their own bomb that was going to explode from under them and put them on the street.

There is nothing in me that wants to go in there and do new music. How are you going to deliver it? How are you going to get paid for it if people can just get it for free? …

The record industry doesn’t have a f*cking clue how to make money. It’s only their fault for letting foxes get into the henhouse and then wondering why there’s no eggs or chickens. Every little college kid, every freshly-scrubbed little kid’s face should have been sued off the face of the earth. They should have taken their houses and cars and nipped it right there in the beginning. Those kids are putting 100,000 to a million people out of work. How can you pick on them? They’ve got freckles. That’s a crook. He may as well be wearing a bandit’s mask.

Doesn’t affect me. But imagine being a new band with dreams of getting on stage and putting out your own record. Forget it.

But some artist like Radiohead and Trent Reznor are trying to find a new business model.
That doesn’t count. You can’t pick on one person as an exception. And that’s not a business model that works. I open a store and say “Come on in and pay whatever you want.” Are you on f*cking crack? Do you really believe that’s a business model that works?

So what if music just becomes free and artists make their living off of touring and merchandise?
Well therein lies the most stupid mistake anybody can make. The most important part is the music. Without that, why would you care? Even the idea that you’re considering giving the music away for free makes it easier to give it away for free. The only reason why gold is expensive is because we all agree that it is. There’s no real use for it, except we all agree and abide by the idea that gold costs a certain amount per ounce. As soon as you give people the choice to deviate from it, you have chaos and anarchy. And that’s what going on.

The fact that what Gene’s saying here about the perceived value of music–particularly his comparing it to gold, which in case you’re wondering is the metal of choice on the crazy “we’re all gonna be broke because the banks are gonna run out of money tomorrow” housing-bubble blogs I read in my off hours–makes complete sense probably says more about the completely screwed-up state of the recorded-music business than anything else, doesn’t it?

Billboard Q&A: Gene Simmons [Billboard.biz]

  1. Dickdogfood

    Frankly, I don’t care what he says. I can’t get past that hair — it’s the devil’s merkin.

  2. Ned Raggett

    He’s just aiming for the next level:

  3. Anonymous

    The only reason why gold is expensive is because we all agree that it is.
    brilliant.
    As a young person who dreams of playing music for at least a partial living, I have many questions about the marketing of my product. The fact that there is no longer a marketplace for that product is a little disturbing. Still, I don’t give one rat’s asshole that the major label recording industry has been neutered, they’ve been exploiting artists and consumers of music since there’s been product and customers to exploit.
    On the other hand I’m utterly perplexed how the indies or individuals who take on their own music sales ventures will make do in the future.
    Save me Gene Simmons, I’m worth at least a deuce.

  4. The Van Buren Boys

    Every little college kid, every freshly-scrubbed little kid’s face should have been sued off the face of the earth. They should have taken their houses and cars and nipped it right there in the beginning.

    That’s right Gene, taking all those houses and cars those rich college kids own will solve all of the problems. Oh and 100,000 to a million people put out of work? I’m sure that up to 1 out of every 300 Americans works for the record industry. (Note: I can’t stand Gene Simmons so I’m required to disagree with everything he says no matter how much sense his second response makes.)

  5. Anonymous

    “The most important part is the music.”

    Really, Gene? I have four words in response to that:

    “Music from ‘The Elder’.”

  6. Dickdogfood

    @Ned Raggett: Oh, I thought by “the next level” you mean the “the devil’s belly-button lint.”

  7. Ned Raggett

    @dickdogfood: You have superior wisdom, sir.

  8. troybulldogs21

    I’m sure 1 million people don’t work directly for the record industry, but how will it change the companies that print the music, deliver music, sell music (big box stores have alot of space dedicated to physical music), etc. It will have trickle down effects like anything else, and Gene is a pretty smart businessman, so I think he has some clue what he’s talking about. And his reality show is awesome.

  9. Ned Raggett

    @bbernardini: Music from the Elder remains one of the most brilliantly ridiculous things ever.

  10. FionaScrapple

    “The most important part is the music”

    Savor the irony. or the hypocrisy, whichever you prefer.

  11. Dickdogfood

    The music industry–the one Simmons understands and comprehends and knows how to make money from–is a relatively recent historical phenomenon, not an eternal truth, not the *only* conceivable mediator between musicians and audiences. I feel no special affection for it. And I’m not sad to see it disappear–but I AM alarmed to see it disappear SO FAST without a reasonably efficient and trustworthy replacement in play.

  12. NickEddy

    I’m supposedly playing the part of Ace for him when KISS next play the Li’l Wampum Casino y Challah Hut Inc, so I will recuse myself from the gratuitous piling on.

    THAYER’S GONNA BE A CHANGE! etc

  13. King of Pants

    Considering that Gene Simmons took middling musical ability (and that’s charitable) and made himself a gazillionaire, I’d be more apt to listen to him vis-a-vis the vagaries of the music industry than, say, some dipshit blogger carrying on how music magically makes itself and should be given away for free and la de doo da.

  14. Antiheroine

    Seriously, Radiohead needs to do more comic book and action figure tie-ins. That defines “all about the music” right there.

  15. Captain Wrong

    If only it was this easy to get other past their prime rockers to not release new music.

  16. Anonymous

    The argument has some merit, but of all of the artists I’ve heard make a “without potential financial reward, what’s the point in creating music” argument, Ben Weasel was the only one I’d actually miss.

    *note: Ben Weasel was making a larger point, and was not as crass as my non-quote would indicate.

  17. Anonymous

    The whole statement,”…you have chaos and anarchy. And that’s what (oops!) going on.” is a pretty rock and roll, no? During the DIY days bands had no technology, just four tracks and some duct tape. Now they have technology, downloadable, often for nothing, and infinately distributable. Good for them. It’s about the music! Right Gene?! Right? Gene?

  18. sparkletone

    Really. Given Gene’s willingness to license all conceivable merchandise rights, the fact that he can’t come up with a way to sell things in a post-Napster world is just sad.

    Also, I know it’s been said over and over again but really. What a fucking slimy individual.

  19. BestEuphemismEver

    @Antiheroine: And a sunday morning cartoon show! And a guest spot on a really lousy sitcom (Thom and the lads meet Two and a Half Men – hilarity ensues!) Not to mention Radiohead candy. Mmm, tastes like disillusionment and ennui.

  20. Richaod

    Turning people into merchandise collectionists just so a retired “musician” can make another million bucks… THAT is thievery. It’s not as if anyone buys his records, they’re too busy buying KISS pinball machines and tickets to their umpteenth reunion tour.

    What does he need with so much money? It’s not like he’s going to give it to his children: [www.roadrunnerrecords.com]

  21. Homage

    @metamuslix: I also was under the impression that “chaos and anarchy” were sort of what we were going for with this whole “rock and roll” thing.

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