Gene 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]