Gene Simmons Says Sue Your Fans, Take Their Homes; So Why Hasn't He?

from the put-up-or-shut-up dept

Kiss’ Gene Simmons apparently was bored of not getting enough coverage in the blogworld lately, and so he’s cooked up another “controversy.” He does this every year or so, making a big stink about “piracy” or new business models, and I’m pretty sure at this point that he only says this stuff because he knows people will write about it. In 2008 he claimed that Radiohead was destroying the music industry with its “pay what you want” experiment — even though it made the band more money than all their previous releases. In 2007, he told Billboard Magazine that the labels should be suing more people:

The record industry doesn’t have a f*cking clue how to make money. It’s only their fault for letting foxes get into the henhouse and then wondering why there’s no eggs or chickens. Every little college kid, every freshly-scrubbed little kid’s face should have been sued off the face of the earth. They should have taken their houses and cars and nipped it right there in the beginning. Those kids are putting 100,000 to a million people out of work.”

Of course, the evidence suggests Simmons is totally wrong, but apparently he hasn’t learned anything in the past three years or he doesn’t care. Kiss keeps selling concert tickets at an amazing clip, so he can say whatever ridiculous thing he wants and he still makes more money. So he’s basically repeated those claims from 2007 (found via Hypebot), by saying that fans should be sued until they lose their homes:

“It is a business. You have a fiduciary duty to your own butt to make sure you maximise any potential and minimise any exposure,”

He’s right about that, but perhaps confused about long-term vs. short-term maximization. You can maximize revenue in the short term at the expense of long-term revenue, and one good way to do that is to smack around your fans. But that didn’t stop Simmons:

Make sure your brand is protected, be litigious, sue anybody — take their homes, their cars, DON’T LET ANYBODY CROSS THAT LINE.

These are his fans he’s talking about. While he’s got fans to spare, he may discover one day that suggesting bands sue their fans isn’t actually a good long-term strategy.

“The music industry was asleep at the wheel and didn’t have the balls to go and sue every fresh-faced, freckle-faced college kid who downloaded a clip,” Simmons roared, “so now we’re left with hundreds of people without jobs. I have a record company.”

Not quite sure where that final non-sequitur came from (sounds sort of like “I’m on a horse.”) Either way, he’s confusing the record industry with the music industry. The recording industry did, in fact, try to sue every college kid who downloaded stuff. And it ended up costing them a ton of money, educating many more people about file sharing, and driving people and systems further underground. And, while all that was happening the music industry (not the recording industry) continued to grow at a pretty massive rate, despite his claims. I’m on a horse.

He illustrated these already-colourful points with a handful of stories: one about a captain who’s told he has a small hole in his ship (will he cork it now, or sink before arrival to the New World?), and another about a farmer who lets a cute fox run away with an egg. The fox tells all the other foxes, who come to ravage and steal and kill all the chickens, after which point the farmer’s wife divorces her witless husband and the children all hate him.

Um. Okay. Story time from Gene Simmons. I can tell stories too, except mine are actually about real people who figured out that attacking or suing your fans was a bad idea, and actually putting in place smarter business models made sense.

But here’s the reason why I think Simmons is making all this up for the attention and the press. He notes that he has a record company, and he screams about the industry not having the balls to sue people. So… um… Gene… where are your thousands of lawsuits against file sharers? After all, I would imagine that KISS songs are downloaded all the time. What’s with all the talk and no action? Where are all the lawsuits that drove kids out of their homes and cars? Oh right. They didn’t happen.

And, in the meantime, as mentioned, Simmons is making a ton of money selling concert tickets. The article notes $400 million in concert tickets sold in the last 8 years, and that’s only a tiny fraction of the KISS business behemoth, which sells all sorts of scarcities that people want to buy. In other words, Simmons (who wastes no opportunity to talk about what a brilliant business man he is) has actually figured out how to thrive in a world where free copying is rampant, by selling stuff that can’t be copied for free. He should be one of the poster children for showing how you build a business that “competes with free.” It’s just sad that he either doesn’t realize why his business worked, or he wants to mislead everyone about it.

Anyway, you can watch the video below of this talk. The whole talk is about 40 min but I’ve queued up to the parts quoted here:

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Comments on “Gene Simmons Says Sue Your Fans, Take Their Homes; So Why Hasn't He?”

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none of your business says:

Re: One question about Simmons:

I agree that he’s an idiot and doesn’t seem to get it that people think he’s becoming an old idiot now. Someone needs to tell Gene that it’s time he grew up now, cut his hair, make sure his life insurance policies are paid up because guys his age are closest to the grave than to some young girl’s bed, and time for him to become a man who respects his “WIFE” by making the “MOTHER of HIS CHILDREN” and his housekeeper, cook, errand runner, phone service, bed companion into his wife by having enough respect and love for her and their children to marry her finally. Someone really needs to let this jerk know that he is vulgar, he is old, he is wrinkled and has more than a middle-age spread, he has adult children – and yet he thinks it’s perfectly fine for him to walk around out in public without his companion, but with young girls on each arm – girls younger than his own daughter mind you – and because girls like them will grab and walk in front of cameras on the arms of any old geezer with millions of dollars it doesn’t mean they actually find him attractive. It means they know he’s filthy rich and is on television and hanging on his arms can’t hurt them. And he feels no shame knowing that his own children watch him parading this nonstop disrespect for their mother daily and as publicly as possible. He won’t marry her because he doesn’t believe in the institution of marriage or being tied down – or what? Why the hell did he have kids with her then? And what about her? Is it okay to him if Shannon now wants to walk in front of the cameras with young boys, very well built and endowed young men, with one on each of her arms before the flashing cameras? Is that okay for her to do? And what if some guy who is a public figure and rich like himself decides that he doesn’t believe in marriage either but wants to take Sophie, the Simmons daughter, home with him to have his babies, cook and clean for him and be a bed partners – and tells the world he has no intention of marrying Sophie, and while Sophie is home with the kids, he’s going to have women on his arms too. Would Gene feel okay about that one? Well why not? Isn’t that exactly what he’s taught Sophie that she should be willing to accept and should expect that from a guy in her life that she loves? It’s the way she has watched him treat her mother all of her life. So how can he ever be what a good father to a young woman should be? He can’t – and he isn’t. When the public laughter stops and the cameras are gone and we’re outside again, what will he do about the tears and heartbreak coming from his children and his non-wife? And while he’s growing up, perhaps he can take his son by the arm, make him get a haircut, stop trying to look like the grunge, wear sensible clothes and make him grow up too. Maybe he and his son can try to grow up together. Hope he can pull it off before he dies. I don’t think there’s a lot of time before he gets there. He’s repulsive. He’s a jackass. and what might have been amusing for the first few episodes has turned into something that is not only not at all funny but is in fact actually disgusting. Take him off television until he can respect Shannon and his kids. You slimeball Simmons

ac says:

a business man...

He knows that he can only market his brand (i.e. Gene Simmons) as long as he has a media footprint. I think Mikes assessment that this is a grab for some camera time is spot on. When he disappears from the media, his profits will start to dissolve. His career as a musician has been irrelevant for at least 15 years, so he’s got to keep his wrinkled buttocks in front of the camera any way he can.

MrWilson says:

Nice metaphor

…only, the cute fox is actually your fan and if he sees you suing his friends, he sure as hell isn’t going to buy your eggs. He’ll get his eggs from that smarter farmer that the wife left you for because that farmer is smart enough to adapt to the market rather than sticking his fingers in his ears and saying, “this is the way we’ve always done it, why should we change?”

Bruce Ediger (profile) says:

Please, no posters of Gene Simmons!

I totally disagree that Gene Simmons should be one of the poster children for showing how you build a business that “competes with free” as Mike writes. Gene Simmons should NOT be any kind of “poster” anything. That dude is ugly. He should not be allowed within view of a poster factory. Barring Gene Simmons posters, and the reproduction of Gene Simmons posters is a copyright I can get behind.

cjstg (profile) says:

he's no idiot

ok, look at the facts. as the post points out he has figured out how to make money in the new music environment, lots of money. what’s the best way to continue to make more money? encourage the other idiots to continue chasing their tails around the courthouse. meanwhile he continues to make inroads for himself and his friends.

simmons has always been willing and able to say whatever it takes to get people looking at him and his products. behind that silly facade there really is a shrewd businessman. just like a group of clowns in makeup that really do put out some decent music.

if you ever want to hear him at his best/worst just listen to the interview between him and terry gross on fresh aire. that one interview has been played more times than just about any other from that show. it put gene simmon out there and even got terry gross some non-npr publicity.

Anonymous Coward says:

Who are these clowns?K iss?

You don’t know who Kiss is?

No. Never heard of them.

They look like idiots to me.

No, no, no, dude.

These are four of the smartest guys who ever lived.
They’re these Jewish guys that grew up in New York,
and they put on guitars and makeup to get girls,
and all of their songs
are about fucking!

I’m listening.

Seriously, this song is called Love Gun, and it’s about Paul Stanley’s dick and how this girl’s gonna
get some of his dick!

Cool. I didn’t know Jews could sing like that.

No. No. They couldn’t at the time. That’s why they had to dress like clowns.

This got them girls?

Get this! They’ve been getting pussy nonstop for 30 years!

They’re probably fucking right now, and they’re old dudes!

They put makeup on,and it’s all good!

No shit?

You pull the trigger of my Love gun You see, Ronnie?
His dick is the gun!

out_of_the_blue says:

Again the false equation of making music with work.

“Those kids are putting 100,000 to a million people out of work.”

Not all that long ago — a 100 years — performers were looked down on as undesirables, and rightly so. We now know that even when they’re allowed to get rich, the joys of making music don’t improve nasty natures. It’s time for society to evaluate the wisdom of letting power accumulate by income from pleasing mass audiences. The simple solution is steeply progressive income tax rates: remove ridiculous incomes, problem is solved mechanically, no need to to do complex and contentious weighing of value to society. — NO ONE is worth to society as much as Gene Simmons has been able to accumulate. If you expect a vile rock singer to be any different than his persona, you’ve no understanding of human nature. More money just fuels worse behavior, where if his income were kept within reaonable bounds, we *might* get something decent eventually. That seems an iron law to me, but most think that a remoted *possibility* that they’ll “strike it rich” someday is worth *actually* allowing society to be taken over by the worst elements.

cjstg (profile) says:

Re: Again the false equation of making music with work.

wow, where to begin with this one? if you come up with something that everyone likes and is willing to pay for, you should be penalized through higher taxes. not because of financial reasons, but because you “might” become a douche-bag. what a great way to encourage innovation? why didn’t the government think of this a long time ago?

Ronald J Riley (profile) says:

“Of course, the evidence suggests Simmons is totally wrong” should have read “Of course, the evidence suggests Masnick is totally wrong” at least about patents:)

Ronald J. Riley,

Speaking only on my own behalf.
President – – RJR at
Executive Director – – RJR at
Senior Fellow –
President – Alliance for American Innovation
Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel
Washington, DC
Direct (810) 597-0194 – (202) 318-1595 – 9 am to 8 pm EST.

hautedawg (user link) says:

Gene Simmons can KISS my A$$

Okay, we all know this guy is nothing short of a media whore, raising little media whores who will then give him grand media whores.

His A&E show is as scripted as it gets (next to the Hills) and his son is a talentless son of a rocker that will ride his coat tails into oblivion.

He is a media whore, will be a media whore and will always be a media whore.

Anonymous Coward says:

Lets see, the guy is so ugly (along with the rest of the band) that they put on makeup, Gene gets rich and hooks up with a Playmate of the Year and you call him an asshole?

Somehow I doubt he really cares much about your opinion one way or another.

You can keep talking about theory and the way things should be while Gene keeps living his life you you live yours. Guess who wins?

Jose_X (profile) says:

He could have been speaking out of frustration or indulgence or momentarily out of his mind; however, this guy apparently knows how to connect very well with fans and probably wouldn’t attack fans unlike the hypothetical example he stated there. In any case, fans don’t generally connect or are fans of the guys in suits that pull many strings and aren’t artists; hence, Simmons might simply have been looking for a little fun/experiment or to shake some easy loose fruits from the tree, as anyone of the suits that does apply his views will likely serve to drive fans away from them and towards independent artists and others that tend to run their show and connect. More directly, those that accept the face value without experimentation and research will likely lose out. Simmons apparently has not problem being dishonest in various ways in front of various audiences.. and in the end, it does fulfill his comment (possibly) of the need to always serve your own ends in a round and about way. Finally, he might be using some exaggerations (knowing very well some of those listening were such freckled or pimply kids at one time) in order to try and wake up the establishment about what they are really doing — driving fans away.

Anonymous Coward says:

Again the false equation of making music with work.

Tax isn’t a punishment. It’s not the government being big meanies to the rich, who are so upset by it they’re going to quit making money altogether.

Tax is necessary because it pays for things society needs. It is a more efficient way of providing things that everybody needs, and of ensuring that everybody gets them, regardless of income.

People who have more money have more excess money. Money they don’t need to live. Or in the case of people as rich as Simmons, money they could set fire to to heat their home, use as toilet paper, shred for confetti, and still die rich. People with that amount of money can afford to pay more tax, and it won’t hurt them in any way. It’s just a number going down. They’re not going to have to sleep on the street. Unlike many good people who do have to.

Anonymous Coward says:


Who gets to look in the mirror and not be Gene Simmons? Who gets to know they have integrity, are not a whore, are not something between a joke and "ew!". Are not widely thought of by the public as an idiot and a relic who should have retired gracefully a couple of decades ago.

I do! So do most people! Self-respect is priceless.

There’s not much worse than an old man’s vanity. Except listening to him telling you about it!

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