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Gene Simmons Takes Hard Stance Against Streaming Services: Music Is Commerce Not Charity

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Nearly 20 years since illegal downloading helped contribute to the rapid decline of album sales which was later furthered by music streaming services, fans, industry reps and musicians are still chattering about the shift in the climate. Always with an ear to the ground, KISSGene Simmons offered a hardened take on the new music industry model.

“Good luck to [the streaming services]. I am not a supporter,” Simmons began while guesting on the Thunder Underground Podcast (audio below, transcription via Blabbermouth). Adding that he’s a believer in the free market economy, he also threw his support behind acts like Taylor Swift and Metallica who have followed the same path taken by The Beatles when it comes to those who don’t want to “play the game.”

Mentioning he’s quite well off financially, Simmons spoke to the troubles younger bands now face, especially those just launching their careers. “Imagine you’re a new band and you have your passion and your music and you really love it, you can’t do it. There’s nothing else. [The fans] can’t show up live, because they don’t know who you are, so somehow you’ve gotta get the music out there. But if you wanna earn a living, you can’t get the music out there. So, you’re living in your mother’s basement, you have to have a day job and the kids get your music for free,” the bassist explained.

Since the collapse of album sales, bands and labels have become increasingly dependent on driving touring revenue. With the music out there for free, Simmons said just promoting live shows “doesn’t work.” He then pointed the blame at the fans, affirming “the people that killed all the new bands are the fans themselves. It wasn’t corporate America, it wasn’t aliens from space. The people that killed the music they love are the people who love the music.”

Citing Radiohead‘s 2007 digital release of In Rainbows where fans were asked to name their own price for the album download, Simmons noted, “They did it once, didn’t they? It doesn’t work.” Instead, he propositioned, “Charge people. Make them pay. Make a cross, draw a line in the sand. This is commerce, and that’s charity. Once you get your money and all that stuff, then you can decide if you wanna do charity. Or advertise it as charity: ‘What I’m about to do? Charity.’ But I don’t want somebody else deciding when I do charity or how much I’m giving.”

In early March, Simmons had stated he was preparing to release a box set containing upwards of 150 songs that had not been previously released. He said the full announcement about the impending release would come soon, but no other details have surfaced as of press time.

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