Gene-Simmons400 Gene Simmons’ son, Nick Simmons interviewed his father for Esquire Magazine. Portions of the interview appears below.

Nick Simmons: You once said the music business isn’t dying — it’s dead. What would you say to young musicians and songwriters today trying to navigate this new terrain?

Gene Simmons: Don’t quit your day job is a good piece of advice. 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.

I am so sad that the next 15-year-old kid in a garage someplace in Saint Paul, that plugs into his Marshall and wants to turn it up to ten, will not have anywhere near the same opportunity that I did. He will most likely, no matter what he does, fail miserably. There is no industry for that anymore. And who is the culprit? There’s always the changing tide of interests — music taste changes with each generation. To blame that is silly. That was always the exciting part, after all: “What’s next?” But there’s something else. The death of rock was not a natural death. Rock did not die of old age. It was murdered. And the real culprit is that kid’s 15-year-old next-door neighbor, probably a friend of his. Maybe even one of the bandmates he’s jamming with. The tragedy is that they seem to have no idea that they just killed their own opportunity — they killed the artists they would have loved. Some brilliance, somewhere, was going to be expressed, and now it won’t, because it’s that much harder to earn a living playing and writing songs. No one will pay you to do it.

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. And I’m not slamming The X Factor, or pop singers. But where’s the next Bob Dylan? Where’s the next Beatles? Where are the songwriters? Where are the creators? Many of them now have to work behind the scenes, to prop up pop acts and write their stuff for them.

Here’s a frightening thought: from 1958 to 1983, name 100 musical anythings that are iconic, that seem to last beyond their time.

NS: [How] does this bode for the industry of the future?

GS: There is no record industry, unfortunately. Not like there was. There are some terrific bands out there — Tame Impala, which you turned me on to, and so on. And during the ’60s and ’70s they would’ve become big, I’m convinced.

But, strangely, today, everything pales before Psy’s Gangnam Style. Look up the numbers on that song. He blows everyone else out of the water.

Read more at Esquire.


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  • Nick on

    Some say Godsmack is all noise their full of it. I listen to bands that most will consider it noise I like heavy like Napalm Death, Lamb Of God, Morbid Angel etc. Did most of you even care how good Deathangels latest album was orobably not.

  • Chas on

    Just today on my lunch break…Hair Nation/KeithRoth talked about how great the new Ace Frehley record was…then he played New York Groove. Why not play something off the new album instead of the same songs. It might make some one go buy the new record!!!

  • Nick on

    I blame the FCC and the political feminists that did everything to censor and ban rock music. After long enough time they’ve succeeded. They deemed metal music as the devils music. You lie to people enough they’ll beleive it. The mtv awards some pre party a shotting happens at a hip party no outrage. You wear a metal t shirt society deems you evil. Go to a hip hop event violence guranteed to happen. Society is beleived that gangsta life is ok and rock music is evil.

  • Trapper Crane on

    Ok. Let us put aside the argument for a second whether or not Gene is correct about rock music being dead (USA alone? Or global? separate question)

    We are all rock and metal fans here. What is the solution? It is not doing any good arguing whether or not Gene is correct, cause there is a definite problem in the rock/metal world when it comes to album sales, at least. I’d like to see some creative metalhead to either design a website to deal with this issue (or at least social media sites). Let’s start a groundswell of solutions. Granted, this problem will not get fixed over night, but we have to start somewhere.

    • George on

      Trapper….the solution has long passed as only Satelite radio plays anything new, or for that matter anything considered classic metal/hard rock. Kiss and Def Leppard play at sporting events, Dancing with the Stars, American Idol to keep their name alive in the masses…problem is, those shows are not my cup of tea or most hard rock fans, so they actually end up alienating their true fans. New hard rock has to be sought out, as even Satelite over plays predictable songs of the genre instead of reaching deep into a bands catalog. I am one of the only people I know who actually still BUYS my music…I have never downloaded one song for free, as I want to support these groups, plus I love buying new music. Unfortunately unless you are in your 40’s and older, you can’t appreciate what the music industry in general used to be…especially metal/hard rock…bands barely even write their own stuff, and if they do it’s hit driven, as opposed to bands from years ago, who made albums with something to say…The metal/hard rock genre suffers from no airplay, and no promotion so it’s hard to reach new fans. Plus, those bands make albums, where younger people are not album driven, they buy singles on iTunes. I saw W.A.S.P. At a small club in Fort Lauderdale a few years ago with about 200 people max…when looking at their remaining tour dates, everything overseas was large arenas and festivals…in the U.S. this is an issue, but elsewhere metal and hard rock are alive and well..I guess just keep on keepin on as I and most on this site will and wave the metal flag…Someone already said it, but that’s why someone like Eddie Trunk is so important to the music we love.

  • Trapper Crane on

    One other question. How are record sales in the USA and abroad for newer bands like Rival Sons and Halestorm? I looked, but couldn’t find anything.

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