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."