Billboard Magazine recently had a chance to speak with the front man and founding member of KISS, Gene Simmons, about the band and about the music industry as a whole. While the questions about upcoming releases and tours were answered in a fairly standard manner, bringing up new music must have touched on a rather sore point for Mr. Simmons. While artists are certainly not expected to like the idea of a listener having downloaded their hard work, Gene Simmons evidently would rather not have the listeners at all, saying that "Every little college kid ... 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." When the interviewer turned the conversation to artists such as Radiohead and Trent Reznor, who are offering free downloads and a "pay if you want to" purchasing model, the abuse continued. "I open a store and say 'Come on in and pay whatever you want.' Are you on f---ing crack? Do you really believe that's a business model that works?"
Evidently the $2.7 million USD grossed by Radiohead on the first day of sales "doesn't work" well enough.
But according to Gene, it's not about the money. "The most important part is the music. Without that, why would you care?" No doubt a smaller band, playing music for the fun of it, might agree -- but coming from the mouth of a man with a reality show on A&E in its third season, a cartoon on Nickelodeon, his own book publishing company, and a band that has branded merchandise from lighters to condoms to comic books -- it's a little hard to believe that it's still "about the music."
quote: Honestly, I find nothing more offensive than the attitude that increased handouts are going to solve all the ills of society.
quote: According to many sources, music and video downloads constitute the bulk of Internet traffic
quote: For instance, if the punishment for shoplifting a $50 piece of clothing is only $50, why would anyone ever pay? They'd simply steal what they wanted, and, if caught, pay the fine. There'd actually be a disincentive to buy the product.
quote: For stealing a single copy of a single song? No, of course not. But if you're referring the the Jammie Thomas verdict, the woman made hundreds of songs available over a lengthy period to potentially millions of people. That's far different (and far more damaging) than simple grabbing a single $50 pair of jeans from Macys.
quote: No. The RIAA demonstrated she downloaded 22 songs herself. She also made several hundred songs available for uploading (as well as downloading much more than that 22 figure), but the RIAA chose to focus only upon what was easily verifiable.
quote: She also lied about it and tried to cover it up. Not exactly the poster child I would have used.
quote: But according to Gene, it's not about the money. "The most important part is the music. Without that, why would you care?"
quote: Gene Simmons has been in the industry so long that he is stuck in the old ways of not having to work for himself while the labels and managers and everyone else does all the work so he can just sing (or scream or yell).
quote: That'll fund a nice lifestyle for a band...but it won't cover the millions needed to promote a band into megastar status.
quote: but while I might buy a golf club that Tiger Woods uses, will I drive a car simply because Angus Pinhead and the Dweasels say I should?
quote: What is irrefutable, however, is that the industry today revolves around Megastars, and that the "artist-direct-to-consumer" model of distributing music without music labels is not one that will support such megastars.
quote: They want music that has been heavily promoted.
quote: And that is exactly why Gene bashes Trent Reznor, a man who respects his fans and even tells them to steal his own music and share it with their friends.
quote: I'd rather see them doing something (like extending capitalism to poorer countries) that a) won't be forgotten tomorrow and b) will actually do good for people who need good.
quote: "After nearly two decades of having slop forced on them, many music fans have realized that supporting "big labels" is what is killing music."
quote: They are arrogant, money hungry druggies. They just want more cocaine and heroine, and if we won't give them the money to buy it they will SUE us until we don't exist anymore to get their heroine.
quote: It appeared to me that when he said “The most important part is the music” his intention was to say that it is the sales of the recorded music that is the most important to the business model, not the live concerts and the merchandise.
quote: "I open a store and say 'Come on in and pay whatever you want.' Are you on f---ing crack? Do you really believe that's a business model that works?"