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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  • Patrick on

    Honestly, the best way I can think of to bring rock back to life is to behave like a virus and infect dance/hip hop grooves with heavy riffage. If the beat is there, the dancers won’t care…and then the Rock Bug will infect them.

  • James K. on

    You know, I’ve already posted what I want to say on this story and between me and everyone else, all the bases have been covered, good and bad. I’m bored now, so here’s some lyrics from a great song by a great band most people are ignoring for some stupid reason:

    I got the wind at my back and my foot to the floor
    I ain’t coming back to you no more
    I’m sick of your shit and your moaning whine
    I’m leaving for good come rain or shine
    You can cry me a river, cry me a river of tears
    Yeah you can cry all you like but I won’t change my mind
    I gotta get away, get you outta my life

    You got me runnin’ wild and free
    Runnin’ wild and free
    You got me runnin’ wild and free
    Runnin’ wild and free.

    That’s enough, you can get the album and read the rest of the lyrics to the song for yourselves.:
    Band: Airbourne
    Song: Runnin’ Wild
    Album: Runnin’ Wild
    Year: 2007

    • Dana on


      Applause from me.

      D 🙂

    • Doug R. on

      James, DITTO! 🙂

    • James K. on

      Thanks. Even though the Runnin’ Wild album is special to me because that’s the first Airbourne album I had, I’ve listen to their third album, Black Dog Barking, a lot. Production is a little slicker but it still sounds like Airbourne.

      You wanna know what sucks? They do something like tour Canada for two months straight, going from one coast to the next, and then go to Europe.

  • Ben on

    I think it’s starts with changing radio. Aside from our man Eddie Trunk, rock radio is dead as a door nail.

  • Jason on

    Rock is not dead as long as Steel Panther is around!

  • Sal A. on

    Rock and Roll isn’t DEAD – the Music Industry is Dead…there is a difference. It just so happens that anyone can make a quality CD of their own in their own bedroom, so there is no need for the Record Companies at all now, maybe distribution to some extent…but that can certainly be done by an individual. Face it : it was hard to “make it ” even when there was a thriving music industry. But now everyone and anyone can record, write and play their stuff – I think it’s great. As Simmons said, ” don’t quit your day job ” – and he is correct. After all – MUSIC is an ART anyway ? and now it can be easily expressed – and distributed . AND if it is REALLY good – an artist may ( ? ) be financially rewarded. In the meantime : ” don’t quit our day job !”

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