Gene Simmons: “Rock Is Finally Dead”
Gene Simmons says rock is dead.
In an Esquire interview with his son, Nick, the Kiss frontman declares that there’s no future for the music genre.
Asked whether he has any advice for young musicians and songwriters, Simmons responds, “Don’t quit your day job.”
When I was coming up, it was not an insurmountable mountain. Once you had a record company on your side, they would fund you, and that also meant when you toured they would give you tour support. There was an entire industry to help the next Beatles, Stones, Prince, Hendrix, to prop them up and support them every step of the way. There are still record companies, and it does apply to pop, rap, and country to an extent. But for performers who are also songwriters — the creators — for rock music, for soul, for the blues — it’s finally dead.
Rock is finally dead.
In Simmons’ estimation, the music was “murdered” by file-sharing and illegal downloading that leaves artists unpaid for their work.
The masses do not recognize file-sharing and downloading as stealing because there’s a copy left behind for you — it’s not that copy that’s the problem, it’s the other one that someone received but didn’t pay for. The problem is that nobody will pay you for the 10,000 hours you put in to create what you created. I can only imagine the frustration of all that work, and having no one value it enough to pay you for it.
It’s very sad for new bands. My heart goes out to them. They just don’t have a chance. If you play guitar, it’s almost impossible. You’re better off not even learning how to play guitar or write songs, and just singing in the shower and auditioning for The X Factor.
Simmons goes on to observe that almost no band from the past 30 years has achieved iconic status like their predecessors.
“It’s clear that longevity is practically dead, and new artists that stand the test of time — meaning, artists whose art can survive them, who become icons — are so rare as to almost be nonexistent,” he says.
The rocker believes the problem is deeper than just swiping a few music files:
If you’re a native-born American, my contention is that you take a lot of things for granted. All the freedoms and opportunities you have here are expected, and you feel entitled. I think this has taken over the American psyche. I find that many of the more patriotic people are immigrants, and they’re the ones who stand still when the flag goes up, out of gratitude. My sense is that file-sharing started in predominantly white, middle- and upper-middle-class young people who were native-born, who felt they were entitled to have something for free, because that’s what they were used to.
If you believe in capitalism — and I’m a firm believer in free-market capitalism — then that other model is chaos. It destroys the structure. You’ll never understand unless you’re the one that wrote the song, and you were the one that had the band, whose music people took without paying you for. Once you’re the one who’s been robbed, there’s a moment of clarity.
What do you think about what Simmons has to say about the death of rock?
Do you agree?