‘Streaming Is Killing the Next Beatles,’ Gene Simmons Says

Gene Simmons promoting 'The Vault Experience' on Fox Business
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Gene Simmons promoting 'The Vault Experience' on Fox Business
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Gene Simmons promoting ‘The Vault Experience’ on Fox Business

From an interview with Gene Simmons and Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo this week…

Maria Bartiromo: Gene, you have been a student of this industry for a long time, and have participated in it. You’re seeing this world change so much because of streaming. You own your own music.  So do streaming services hurt artists when it comes to ownership, when it comes to earnings?  Because the whole world is changing around you.

Gene Simmons: It’s a disaster. It’s a disaster because the fans have decided — and they’ve been trained — to not pay for music. And that means that the next Beatles and the next Elvis —

Bartiromo: — they think it’s free.

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Simmons: — it’s free.  Imagine a supermarket.  Farmers have worked all their lives to grow the fruit, and the trucks, and the unions that bring it to the stores, and the beautiful stories and the people that work there. Imagine being able to walk in there and walking out with anything you want without paying for it. How long is the farmer gonna stay in business, how long is retailer gonna stay in business?  So everything is dying because fans have trained themselves not to pay for the music.

“Look — you’re not affecting me, I’m doing okay. My rent’s paid. But you’re killing the new band, you’re killing the next Beatles, and that breaks my heart.”

Bartiromo: But now, it’s not longer the customer’s fault. Now this is what they can do. And you’re going to do whatever you can do, and if you’re —

Simmons: I think legislation is the answer.

Maria: OK. Tell me about that —

Simmons: — which is that Spotify and other channel streaming services and so on.  Look, my daughter had a 10 million — Sophie Simmons — had a 10 million viewed single last year, two years ago.  10 million, she made 214 bucks.  Spotify’s taking all the money, record companies — the bands are taking, the acts are taking a small percentage of one penny per download, which is a crime.

Here’s the full interview.

23 Responses

  1. Nicky Knight in the sunshine

    These are the new golden years of the recorded music business.

    You no longer need a million dollar studio to make professional sounding tracks..

    iPad Pro and Cubasis 2.2 will give you exactly what an SSL large console can do
    (and more..) except your studio can now fit inside your backpack..

    Acoustic sampled instruments, Synthesizers, Drum Machines, Banks of effects,
    Audio editing tools and full mixdown and share capabilities.

    So in this new golden age of recorded music.. you can have the most amazing creative tool in a tiny device (iPad Pro) that you can carry around with you wherever you go and make whatever style of music you like..

    Whether it’s commercial pop, dance/edm, soul/r’n’b, rock or experimental..

    iPad Pro with Cubasis 2.2 will make you more productive because it’s fun to use and you can have your studio in the library, cafe, foodcourt, in the park or on the roof of a skyscraper.. or work while on the train or bus..

    You studio is completely portable..no more paying rent for a studio space when you can do it anywhere..

    So for the studio and equipment side of the recorded music business.. it’s never been this good..

    Also, streaming may be the savior of the business because people will listen to whatever they like and if they like your track then you may strike it lucky with
    100 million listens and the dough starts rolling in…

    Also, iTunes & Beatport are still selling downloads and people are still buying them.. sure it may only be 30% of what it was a few years ago.. but there’s still money up there in them there hills..

    Thinking about what it was like when you were in the physical record business.. for most bands/artists it was very tough and you were lucky if you ever got paid.. plus studios cost a fortune back then..

    Now anyone can become a Holland/Dozier/Hollan, Gamble/Huff, Chinn/Chapman, Vanda/Young, Stock/Aitken/Waterman, Max Martin, Dr Luke…

    All you need is your iPad Pro, Cubasis 2.2 and a headful of hooks.. (to quote Mike Chapman)..

    • Anonymous

      Does iPad Pro and Cubasis 2.2 cost more than the $214 Sophie Simmons made? You may need a microphone too, so figure that in. I’m sure I’m forgetting a few other things.

    • Yarp!

      New golden years? Give me some of what you’re smoking. I’m in my early thirties and even I know that music and the music business is crap compared to the sixties through the nineties. Music and musicians have become devalued as a result of free music. Younger people don’t have the attention span to learn to play an instrument well. Smart phones kill the imagination.
      Not likely there will ever be anything as groundbreaking as The Beatles again but, hell, if take another Guns n Roses. Maybe even another Killers (first album only).

    • Russian bear pianist

      Hi! Totally You need iPad Pro + Cubasis 2.2 and… Full-day job to pay your everyday bills… and strong health to work at day job and evening to make ‘Great streaming’ music (paid by ‘likes’). Total Digital technology leads to awesome Total Digital Success)))) What for Backs to you when they pay you ‘Likes’ and ‘Views’?
      Digital music technologies and speed of producing music took earnings from musicians. That is problem))). Legend of Beatles wil never come back again…. Music isn’t God yet but pleasant two penny atmosphere before sex))))).

    • Blobbo

      I’m old enough to know the world before now, and young enough to be up to date on the new tools. I have to agree that home studios are SO much better than the previous bullshit. Granted, SOME engineers knew more, but many were hacks. The recording side is incredible, PLUS the things some of the software can do now with emulating even fills in drums that sound pretty damn real, means songwriters can focus on songs, and vocals.

      That said, something is wrong in the industry on the release side. All the same big cheesy artists are taking up most of the limelight, and NONE of them are daring or political. The media is owned by very few players, at least in the USA, and the US is the biggest market culturally, or it has been.

      The release side is bullshit, and it’s hard to pay for early touring with zero funds, though merchandising, and some vinyl sales. Word of mouth is still king, though, and I think a great band can get traction today, especially a band as good as the Beatles or Zeppelin. I don’t think its the industry, I just think young musicians are listening to too much bullshit rap, bad folk, bad disco rehashing, and not enough quality rock and blues influences.

      I also think, however, that Google, Facebook, and Spotify ARE the enemy of ALL creative people, and they need to be either imploded or dragged into court and forced to pay huge amounts for the content of ALL kinds that they have built their billion-dollar houses on.

  2. Nicky Knight

    The point being.. the recorded music business is more than simply revenue from
    consumers.. it’s also about sound recording equipment, studios, instruments, technology and access to all of the above..

    For creators of recorded music.. today is an amazing time because of advances in technology.. If you want to get rich from recorded music you still can.. but you have to be really good at what you do and write/produce the right stuff..

    Sure the days of rich pickings from selling vinyl/CD have since passed.. but in today’s world you have music streaming & downloads and still there is performance (publishing) royalties coming from AM FM radio..

    iPad Pro and Cubasis 2.2 won’t have all the features of a MacBook Pro with Cubase 9 and 3rd party plugins… (along with studio monitoring, headphones, mic’s and outboard gear..) – but an iPad Pro with Cubasis 2.2 (with optional 3rd party iOS apps/plugins) will still give you the means for State-of-the-Art productions..

    The huge other plus is that it gives you easy portability.. the ability to do your music work from almost anywhere.. and you can always import into Cubase your Cubasis projects to finalize your productions..

    If you were living in 1978 or 1984 or 1990 you couldn’t do any of that..

    The rock band construct of the 1970s/1980s is from a pre-technology age, before the massive advances in computer tech, tech that will give you all the drums, bass, synths, guitars/organs/pianos/strings etc.. that you’ll ever need..

    In fact you can pretty well make a great sounding music production from your
    iPhone with the included free app GarageBand.. it’s up to the creative person to
    push the technology and the ideas and bridge the two…

  3. George Johnson

    The Best! Gene Simmons said it all. Free steak and groceries. I used to buy food, but now I’m an eater.

  4. Vail, CO

    Does the world need another Beatles? No, they don’t.
    We have more musical creativity than ever in the history of the world, it’s just not concentrated in one gigantic group that makes $100 million.

    BUT… streaming creates a lot of new stars. Maybe not the Beatles. But good artists.

    • Blobbo

      With a few sad exceptions, modern music BLOWS compared to the past… BLOWS. Even modern rap is a shitty rehash of the past. I’m not saying there aren;t good songs here and there, but modern listeners are fucking clueless, the shit they tolerate. Proof? Drake, Weeknd, Mumford, Black Keys. There are more than I can name. Charlie XCX is pretty cool, though. There isn’t one band anywhere near a Nirvana, or Sabbath or Metallica let alone a Stones, Who or Beatles, or ANY of the funk and disco greats that this generation tries so pathetically to emulate. White millenial funk is a fucking joke. Millenial R&B is a horrorshow. Is Beyonce a millenial? So overrated, along with her husband. Lame Z

  5. Nicky Knight

    The Beatles were from another time, another world.. that world no longer exists..
    everything has changed.. the America you knew back then isn’t the America of today.. and same goes with Britain.. compare Britain in the 60s and 70s to today and it’s worlds apart.. KISS wanted to be like the Beatles.. Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley wanted to be the new Lennon/McCartney.. Neil Bogart of Casablanca Records liked what he heard and liked what the image of KISS could achieve.. Along with their manager they caused a sensation, toured the world and made tons of money (although not as much as many would believe..)..

    But that was from a period in time when obviously this construct was fitting..
    Back then the kids really only had their record collection, radio, tv & movies..

    It was a limited world but a world of abundance and excess at the same time..

    And of course it was a time when records really sold a lot of records..

    • Art

      And your waiting the return of record stores? Ah, the days and artist would put out an overpriced album that had two good tracks and the rest crappy filler. But they didn’t know because instead of focusing on the music they focused on being a coked out rock star. Years later their broke because they were too stupid to focus on the business getting ripped off by the label and their managers.

      But hey, let’s bring back those great old days.

  6. abcd

    By not putting your music on platforms you’re withholding millions f people from ever hearing or discovering it plus you’re missing out on income.

    It’s a rather aloof artitude .. I suggest getting a reality check..

  7. Blobbo

    And your point is? My point is simply that this is a time of limited TALENT, but that’s not really possible, so what it is is a time of limited TASTE. Millenials have terrible TASTE, with some exceptions. You have the best recording tech ever, and even Limp Bizkit and Korn are a more competent generation that what goes on currently.

  8. Anonymous

    It seems to me that everyone keeps missing the point on the content compensation issue.

    Virtually every one of these services say that they cannot afford a royalty pool that pays more than a fraction of a penny to compensate labels, artists and songwriters while at the same time permits executives and major shareholders to sell off/cash in blocks of that company’s stock for millions of dollars. All while these companies continue to operate at a “loss”.

    The labels, for the most part, are not inclined to do anything about this because (a) they are oftentimes stakeholders in these services (and benefit from their equity stake), and (b) with very rare exceptions, do not share any benefits of that equity stake, or any advances, minimum guarantees or “breakage” with their artists.

    None of this is going to change without a drastic overhaul of the tax laws whereby companies/executives/investors who cash out equity (i.e., stock) in a company while crying poverty and operating at a loss deprives the engines (i.e., content creators) that drive those businesses fair compensation for their work.

    It is inconceivable that executives and investors of companies, whose businesses would not exist without music, are allowed to cash out millions of dollars (again, while operating at a loss), and not provide some mechanism to further compensate the content creators as part of that same transaction.

    I wouldn’t get my hopes up. The digital music services will continue to distract from this issue by touting rising subscription numbers and the millions/billions in royalties they are paying out to the labels.

  9. Kremen

    It’s all time related. When I was an angry young man I was listening to the Jam and the Clash. In those days it would have cost me thousands in instruments and rehearsal time to make me and my mates sound that good and present the music to that standard. when you can do on a laptop what would have cost arguably hundreds of thousands to produce in the eighties and early ninties then every kid is doing it. problem is, no one goes out to find it. It’s easier and cheaper and arguably more fun to stay home and make it yourself…but no one will ever hear it…..hence the live music industry struggles. more people are going to live shows than ever, but they are the big shows, not the 200 people seeing tomorrows big thing.

  10. Kremen

    If you wanna get paid… DON’T put it on the internet…..
    Once a digital copy exists it can be digitally copied….
    The only people making money here are lawyers…. and gene…
    Most people want their music to be heard .. to others it’s purely buisness,
    A recording contract is the closest thing to tithe labour since the middle ages.

  11. Roland of Aragon

    Gene Simmons is a master salesman and brander.

    But he’s a communist and want to use the government to control music. That is a recipe for disaster. Sounds like he wants to monopolize the industry. Hypocrisy and cronisism at it’s best.

    It’s a new industry and adaptation is the keyword and he knows this. There are more than one way to make money than just royalties.

    He’s smart and he’ll adapt, but he’s totally being PC just to sell his super expensive boxset.


  12. mauro

    Gene is talking shit
    streaming is the new era for music consumers
    the musicians used to make too much money selling CDs or vinyl , this time is over , bud!
    stop bullshiting and make new songs

  13. Goethe

    The Beatles were a product of their demographic. You do not have an audience for another Beatles. The paradigm that allows a recording artist to be a cultural icon with fame and fortune and social/cultural impact is gone. It doesn’t exist. That material on both sides of the isle are not there anymore.

    We are well into an era were culture is less cohesive and authentic; it’s fragmented, monetized (shareholders) and even politicized.

    Political polarization is disintegrating the conventional role of artists as well. The force of popular culture comes from the USA and the USA is spiraling a Critical Theory partitioning of ethnicities jockeying for cultural critical mass. The Beatles couldn’t function in that.