Jonathan Clarke of New York’s Q104.3 radio station recently spoke with KISS frontmanGene Simmons on his Out Of The Box show to clarify the bassist’s statements declaring that “rock is dead.”

Clarke asked if Simmons meant in terms of  radio airplay or streaming numbers?

Simmons replied [via], “In all ways and the culprits are the young fans. You killed the thing that you love. Because as soon as streaming came in, you took away a chance for the new great bands who are there in the shadows, who can’t quit their day job ’cause you can’t make a dime putting your music out there, because when you download stuff, it’s one-hundredth or one-thousandth of one penny. And so you’ve gotta have millions to millions, and even billions of downloads before you can make a few grand. And the fans have killed that thing. So the business is dead. And that means that the next Beatles, or the next whoever, is never gonna get the chance that we did. We had record companies that gave us millions of dollars so we can make records and tour, and not worry about a nine-to-five [job]. Because when you’re worried about nine-to-five, you don’t have the time to sit there and devote to your art, whatever that is.”

He continued, “So, we’re gonna play a game. 1958 until 1988 — that’s 30 years. During that time, you got Elvis Presley, The Beatles, [Jimi] Hendrix, The [Rolling] Stones, just thousands of bands. You had [David] Bowie, you had Prince, U2, maybe us [KISS] in the ’70s, AC/DC, Metallica, and on and on and on. And disco, you had Madonna and Motown— great black music — forever. From 1988 until today, who’s the new Beatles? That’s more than 30 years. That’s around the time when Napster and all that [illegal downloading] stuff started to [happen]. The fox goes in and steals that first egg from the chicken coop, and when the fox isn’t killed, all the other foxes say, ‘Hey, we can get eggs for free.’ Before you know it, the farmer’s out of business, and there are no more eggs in the grocery stores. The grocery store goes out of business, the trucks that deliver the chickens and the eggs go out of business, just ’cause you didn’t kill that first fox that came in to steal the eggs.”

He repeated again, “Who’s the new Beatles?”

Listen to the entire interview below.

13 Responses

  1. I only partially agree with Gene here. He makes a great point about rock suffering because of the lack record company nurturing/financing, streaming, and the lack of money in pursuing the art. That all may be true. However, these problems aren’t exclusive to rock. Pop, rap, jazz, etc. all suffer from the things Gene blames. So I think the problem is much bigger than just whether rock is/is not dead. Maybe the question should be, is the ability to nurture and make new music profitably a thing of the past, or has technology – which initially was meant to advance it – hampered it?

    That said, (and this is the part that no one wants to hear) it could also be that rock just isn’t as popular and predominant as it once was. Tastes change. Kids want to hear what’s new – not what their older siblings or parents listened to. It may simply no longer be the predominant form of pop music – regardless of streaming or whatever other reasons Gene blames. It now just may be another form of music with a niche audience – like jazz or classical or blues.

    Is rock dead? No. There are plenty of new rock bands – some are even good and innovative. It’s just that there isn’t a massive mainstream audience for them anymore. Also, rock fans themselves have killed the genre to an extent. Just look at this website/message board. Most people on it (including myself)!) are still talking about bands whose heyday was 30+ years ago. How are you going to have a massively popular NEW band if your favorite bands are from 1969 or 1975 or 1986?

    1. Well said RTunes68 – I tip my wig to you.

      Personally, I do not think Gene gives a hoot about music…..he is fortunate to co-front a band that is more about merchandise than music. Wonder how Simmons Records is doing?

  2. Rock is only “dead” in the mainstream, but there are lots of great rock and roll bands in the underground that are more than worthy of checking out.

    Rival Sons, Blackberry Smoke, Tyler Bryant and The Shakedown, Kris Rodgers and the Dirty Gems, Soraia, The Weeklings. I can name a few more, but these are some that I have been enjoying for the past few years.

  3. He does have some valid points. Fans no longer want to buy into an entire album/CD, but rather select a song or two a’la cart, for which the band receives squat. The value a society puts on art says a lot about them, and right now young people just don’t support bands in the way they used to. Technology has totally disrupted the system. That’s not to say the system was perfect (far from it). There essentially is no recording budget, and many just use home studios, because that’s what they can afford. Technology isn’t always bad, but as Gene suggested, I hope were not missing out on some amazing music, because they need to drive Uber and deliver food just to survive. On a positive note, I believe the concert business will explode ($$$$) when it’s safe to tour again full force.

  4. I’m gonna start believing Gene cause when Rock Hall nominations came out who gets more press JZ for being nominated and a little blurb for Iron maiden .

  5. Wether or not you like simmons , as a former small business owner , he is 1million% correct , once you can get something for free why would anyone pay for it , is rock dead maybe not , but hes also right about new bands not having the ability to nurture their music , evolve and get better – I believe and always will believe streaming did kill the music industry and because of that rock is on life support ~

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