Friday, November 16, 2007

11-16-07: Gene Simmons: “College Kids Killed Music Business”

I read an interesting interview this morning between Billboard and KISS lead Gene Simmons. It was pretty short, and started off with just a couple questions on the usual “What have you been up to?” and “Are you guys planning on touring any time soon?” Then, when asked if he was planning on recording new material, Simmons jumped into a tirade about how it’s simply not worth it any more because the recording industry is in a shambles. He blames college students who have downloaded countless millions of songs illegally for years.

Most of his responses have been said before by other artists, namely Metallica, for years. He called it criminal and awful, and has put “millions” of people out of business. But then he said something that I thought was pretty interesting. Here’s that bit:


Well therein lies the most stupid mistake anybody can make. The most important part is the music. Without that, why would you care? Even the idea that you're considering giving the music away for free makes it easier to give it away for free. The only reason why gold is expensive is because we all agree that it is. There's no real use for it, except we all agree and abide by the idea that gold costs a certain amount per ounce. As soon as you give people the choice to deviate from it, you have chaos and anarchy. And that's what going on.

You can say all you want about how “they shouldn’t be in it just for the money,” but that’s beside the point. It is a business, just like any other. Gene Simmons isn’t exactly hurting financially, but that doesn’t make him wrong. He’s a bit extreme in his punishments, since you can’t realistically sue all illegal downloaders (only single mothers who download 24 songs, apparently). But his analogy of the worth of gold is quite interesting. Is music just like gold, though? It’s far from rare, and “good” music is entirely subjective. I make up a song in my head, which I do almost every day, that I think is fantastic, but I doubt it would sell as many copies as the next 50 Cent album. Still, it’s an interesting analogy, despite its obvious flaw.

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