November 14, 2007 / 6:42 PM / 13 years ago

Gene Simmons: college kids killed music biz

NEW YORK (Billboard) - Gene Simmons is a busy man. The legendary KISS founder fills his time with a variety of projects. There’s filming for “Gene Simmons Family Jewels,” the reality show entering its third season on A&E. And there’s an animated show on Nickelodeon called “My Dad the Rock Star.”

File photo shows Gene Simmons in New York City October 31, 2006. Simmons recently chatted with Billboard about his band KISS and the music industry. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Simmons is writing his third book — “Ladies of the Night,” a “personal and historical overview” on the profession of prostitution — coming this spring via his own publishing company, Simmons Books. He also has Simmons Comics, with three comic book series based on characters he’s created. The list goes on.

Simmons recently chatted with Billboard about KISS and the music industry.

YOU’VE GOT THE THIRD SERIES OF THE KISSOLOGY DVD COMING OUT NEXT MONTH. IS THERE MUCH MORE WE CAN EXPECT COMING?

There’ll be 10. No one — and that includes the Beatles and Elvis — can touch our (KISS’) merchandising and licensing. Nobody. Outside of the music world, it’s only Disney and Lucas. But in the music world, they can’t shine our shoes.

ANY TOURING PLANS?

We’ll tour a few dates next year. We don’t have anything to prove to anybody or do press to convince anybody we’re important. We’re doing KISS festivals around the Indy car racing series. Simmons Abramson Marketing (his business partnership with entertainment industry veteran Richard Abramson) markets and brands Indy cars. I came up with the I Am Indy brand, by the way. They go on the night before. We’ll do 15 dates or so. We’ll also go to Australia and New Zealand and maybe to four to six shows — but nothing comprehensive until we feel like it.

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? I will be putting out a Gene Simmons box set called “Monster” — a collection of 150 unreleased songs. KISS will have another box set of unreleased music in the next year.

The record industry doesn’t have a f—-ing 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 ARTISTS 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—-ing 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.

Reuters/Billboard

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