Gene Simmons recently declared that rock is dead. Take a moment to peruse the article.
A friend of mine on Facebook posted this article and I responded with a lengthy rant, and though it echoed the thoughts of several other readers, he deleted it, which I totally understand. I thought that the things I said needed to be heard so I decided to rewrite my response here.
Gene Simmons is not a rocker, he is a miser. He is an investment banker that will sell his likeness to anyone. I didn’t have such a harsh opinion of the man until I saw a few episodes of his show. In one episode he bought a baseball team, just like you or I might, and then quickly sold it when it wasn’t making money. How rock and roll of him! The biggest shame is that Kiss fans are true believers. At the very least Simmons could have lived behind the makeup and let his fans have the version of him that they wanted. He should never have invited cameras into his home to let us see what he’s really like. Furthermore, when he’s not singing on stage he needs to keep his mouth shut.
As for what he said, he’s dead wrong. It’s true that labels used to bankroll and develop artists, but statistically it was almost no one. In my opinion the biggest phenomenon that lead to the music industry’s, and the economy’s, current state is that no one thought the gravy train of the 90’s was going to end. Labels signed too many acts and ever since the bubble burst they’ve been too afraid to do anything but play it safe. Now for a modest investment you can make your own destiny and purchase the means to make records yourself. Since there’s no label to pull the plug you’re free to be as expressive as you want, and since you control the means of production end to end, you get a significantly larger cut of every sale. Internet videos have become an effective supplement to constant touring. The industry is much different now, and maybe Simmons doesn’t recognize it, but it’s alive and well. There may be less artists becoming millionaires, which seems to be the only measure of success Simmons understands, but I would argue there are more artists making a living. The point of entry has been lowered so much that you don’t have to beg a record label to let you be an artist, you can just go do it.
I think the state of fandom is in a weird place. I was at a Wilco concert last night. They are one of my favorite bands, and they are definitely my favorite live band. They played continuously for more than two hours. They gave it hard the whole time. There were no gimmicks, aside from a really nice lighting display. It was all steak no sizzle, the diametric opposite of Kiss. But there were plenty of people on their phones the whole show. Some of them were taping, some of them were on Facebook. The two guys behind me wouldn’t stop talking. I gave them the evil eye a few times and they cooled it but that was about halfway through the show. It was an amazing concert and too many people in the audience were missing it. It’s much worse at small local shows. If you’re worried about the state of music do yourself a favor and go see a local show. There are still plenty of people with new and interesting ideas that embody what rock and roll really means.
In conclusion Gene Simmons is the Donald Trump of Music. He doesn’t know what artistry is, and he doesn’t respect numbers with less than seven figures. Don’t let anyone tell you that this isn’t the best time in the history of rock music. With persistence and hard work you can do it all yourself.