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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  • Lee on

    U2, the second biggest release of ’14 (Taylor Swift #1) and it is free to iTuners. The industry is now done. The people who like the vinyl still get to pay the $29. Hey Gene, iTunes paid the irish quartette HUGE money to free as a bird it. I’d love to hear your comment.

  • bobbyd on

    gene is 100% correct about rock being dead on the radio , actually the the music business as a whole is almost dead, if your a young band the only way to make any income now from music is to try and write the best songs you can, get as tight musically as you can ,put on a great show and then tour,tour and tour like crazy ! to me three things really killed the music business- file sharing/stealing music killed it- – music & radio exec’s marketing prefab pop{ many of the songs use the exact same key and just rearrange the chord changes} garbage to kids killed it- & last but not least ,music tv shows who reward kids with no real music experience { touring/writing their own music} for just having a good voice and being young and beautiful killed it- and it really pains me to say this but unless those things change , the music business will not come back from this – obviously there is so much more that has contributed to the music business’s failure , i could go on, but i have to go to work so i can afford to record the music i have written so that no one can buy it………….

  • Frank W on

    Rock may not be in the public spotlight as far as mainstream popular music but that’s what makes it so cool.

  • Lee on

    Look wherethe great Alter Bridge is playing……rock is dead. No wonder Oasis ran. 80’s festivals and indian casinos and brick bars in Scranton loom large for pay.

  • Jon on

    Gene is wrong again… as usual. Rock is not dead. The money making aspect of it is. If anything… KISS IS DEAD!

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