Gene Simmons: 'Downloading Is a Crime, Fans Are Killing the Thing They Love'

"For f--k's sake, you're not giving the next great band a chance," Gene rails at downloaders.

Ultimate Guitar

Never afraid to express his opinion, KISS bassist Gene Simmons scolded illegal downloaders as the main reason for the music's decline.

Sharing a firm stance in the new Metal Hammer issue, Gene said, "I still think [downloading] is a crime. The sad part is that the fans are the ones who are killing the thing they love: great music."

Working up a tantrum, Simmons continued, "For f--k's sake, you're not giving the next great band a chance. How much have we lost through illegal downloading? It's certainly millions. I don't think it's tens of millions, but it's certainly millions. But so much of what we do with the licensing and the merchandising and all that ... we do alright!"

Gene had the rock community pretty stirred up last year, calling Nirvana's Kurt Cobain unworthy of a rock icon title, pointing out multiple times that rock music had become a "pale shadow of itself" ever since 1983. "There won't be another Beatles or another Prince or another KISS because there isn't that support system, there's no record companies 'cause kids have decided they can download and fileshare and bypass paying the artists what they rightfully should be getting," he told Team Rock radio back in October.

Have you got anything to share that would prove Gene wrong? If so, do it in the comments section.

209 comments sorted by best / new / date

    "Old Man Yells At Cloud"
    I'm so tired of hearing this archaic viewpoint from dinosaur rocker, Gene Simmons. "Downloading is killing the industry! Music isn't what it used to be! There will never be another Beatles or KISS!" I say, good. The Beatles were The Beatles, and KISS was KISS. I don't want to hear something that's already been done. Besides, Gene doesn't seem to be capable of looking beyond his romanticized version of the past to see that there are musicians and rock stars who have come to fame since 1983 that have been just as good as anything the 60s or 70s have to offer -- Nirvana, for one, though Gene always has his excuses for that one. But also Red Hot Chili Peppers, Radiohead, Tool, Smashing Pumpkins, and many others who have continued to do well even into the age of music downloading. Heck, if we look at the artists who have risen to fame since music downloading became common place, we have The White Stripes, Queens of the Stone Age, Kings of Leon, System of a Down, etc. And furthermore, who's to say some modern pop artists, like One Direction, couldn't become the next Beatles? I know I could take a lot of heat for that statement, but the Beatles were pop stars in the early days too.
    Did anybody get the Simpsons reference?
    yeah that's why I up voted it...I'm hoping that's why it got the medal but you can't tell on this site
    And my guess is the majority of KISS fans probably don't even know how to illegally download music, so Gene's empire is safe. I really don't know many people under the age of 45 who like KISS.
    Guns N' Chains
    My bro is under 20 and he is a fairly big KISS fan. However, I am not. Haha. Still respect them, though.
    I'm 19...and I love KISS. I'm also on a KISS fan site, and most of the older guys there actually do know their technology pretty well.
    There are certainly many valid criticisms to be made about illegal downloading and filesharing, but whenever Gene Simmons says it all I hear is "money money money money money"
    I always find it ironic that the musicians who have made the most money off of music in the past seem to be the biggest anti-piracy advocates. I might be wrong but I can't recall many instances of smaller/independent artists going on about how piracy is destroying music the way these guys do.
    Jacques Nel
    Older artists who don't make much music anymore rely on the old work to make money, and if people copy their albums and there are no realistic chance of seeing another record from them, they have less income. It's all about money you see...
    That's true in some cases but I think would differ hugely between bands. I'm pretty sure a single reunion show from Kiss would pay them more than a life's worth of albums by smaller artists. It's always about the money. Pity...
    Jacques Nel
    But also, if I get back to your first comment, it's always the same with the bands that have made the most money. Many small bands would give their music to anyone that would listen just to get support. It's once they've made money that they just want more money. Money becomes what these guys live for after a while. I get that stealing something is wrong, but guys who have more money than they can spend in 2 lifetimes shouldn't complain about money.
    The musicians that are effected the most by piracy are the popular ones. Popular bands do not have to tour as much as lesser known bands because they make a lot more money from album sales, and they rely on their albums to sell so they do not have to tour very often.
    There seems to be a formula, the richer and more succesful the artist is the more they bitch about how they are entitled to more money.
    The more successful lose more money to piracy. If NO ONE will buy your $#!T, your not losing money. The concept he put out there is valid though… "OMG I LOVE this band!!!!! I am gonna steal all their music because I love them SO much"
    Well, actually, they usually lose money because of doing shit...
    I don't see why this entire situation with downloading is such a problem. The music industry is trying to fix new problems with old solutions. For instance, I reckon a monetized stream of an album online would make a decent amount of money, having it being downloadable for a small fee on the same site would also help.
    Atleast Nicki Minaj, Drake, Lil Wayne, and Ke$ha will earn less funds, putting them on a similar level with lesser known artists that have more talent.
    That's not really how it works, unfortunately.
    Gene is saying KISS made "great music?"
    Is he seriously putting KISS on the same level as The Beatles? ha
    I think he means in terms of popularity. KISS, Prince, The Beatles, Zeppelin, etc, were all the biggest act in the world at some point. Gene is saying he thinks there will be no hugely popular acts anymore like the ones in the past.
    Kiss made Amazing music. He's just so full of shit these days. They haven't made good music since psycho circus. hes show sucks. He still makes millions of he's music. greedy SOB.
    Actually Kiss makes terrible English... oops I mean Music.
    I think KISS was a nice band like chiefmegadeth said till Psycho Circus they even made i great ballad with a poppy dude like Michael Bolton with the song "FOREVER" but they'll never but never be greater than The Beatles or any other rock'n'roll band back in those days, i think that Gene Simmons is complaining a lot because in he's case at least is not selling KISS stuff anymore, being a little honest with a band i like, like KISS they're the band with most commercial success for selling everything! from matches to condoms! i think that's what's he's worried about hahaha he doesn't give a **** about music in this days XD
    For once I have to agree with Gene. However, it is unlikely to stop illegal downloading because it is committed on such a large scale. Support your artists, people.
    To be honest, I used to pirate absolutely everything, because if it's freely available, why should I pay for it right? Now I try to listen to my favorite bands through Spotify as much as possible, because it's legal and it supports them, if even a tiny little bit.
    Well said. I was going to write something similar about Spotify, it has helped me discover bands I'd never heard of and when I do find something I like I go out and buy the CD. It helps expose bands to a bigger fanbase, and while it may not make them rich or richer it can certainly help them to get more fans.
    A lot of my favorite artists are small-time, up and coming progressive metal groups, who can sometimes be solo artists creating massive albums in their bedrooms with more talent than every member of Kiss put together. These people encourage the distribution of their music, the more views and likes they get on soundcloud or facebook or youtube, the better, the more of a chance they'll get noticed by a label, and subsequently get a chance to put their albums out to a much wider audience, thus allowing them to tour, a dream come true. Seems that once bigger bands have gold and platinum albums and that dream has come true, THAT is when piracy becomes an issue for them. Many people who are against piracy listen to a variety of popular music, and think that because some newer popular artists are agreeing with the dinosaurs, they think it's affecting the entire music industry, when they are really just comparing the relative fame of someone like Theory of a Deadman (just a randmom example) and Kiss, when in reality both bands have tasted mainstream success, to varying degrees. People who are fans of the underground scene are the ones advocating for downloading music, as their favorite artists encourage them to do so.
    And they are slitting their own throats! Getting "noticed" by a label doesn't mean $#!T anymore. You can BUY likes on Facebook, and record companies know that…lots of likes means either your popular…or you'll do whatever it take to LOOK popular. If they only way people will "like" you is to give them free music…WHY would a record company want you? Even getting signed doesn't mean what it once did. If your friends think they will get signed after being noticed and the money will pour in, they are kidding themselves. IF they get signed, they most likely will be paying for new recordings, and paying for their own tour. The record company will put the CDs on shelves if they REALLY like you…but you gave all your music away for free, so now your CD sits there surrounded by a million other mediocre bands CDs.
    I cant stand people that say they love a band yet they won't even pay for the album. Its pathetic. People complain about artists like beiber being so big but they don't realize that the reason he is so promoted is because his fans have their parents buy all of his albums. Little 12 year olds aren't illegally downloading music. Plus illegally downloaded songs sound like shit compared to the albums.
    one thing that must be noted:the alternative to download is not always buying.Sometimes is doing nothing.I mean,i already want to buy more then 50 albums;it is a little bit too much for my wallet.I can't give an order of 1000€.So it is either download some of the music,or not listen to anything and thus not enjoy the music of many bands.And yes,listening full albums in YouTube can be cosidered piracy.
    Absolutely agree with you dude. A lot of smaller artists' CDs aren't as easily available worldwide, ordering them requires going without food for a week (import duties, taxes, weak exchange rates etc.). Personally I try buy directly from artists on sites like Bandcamp as much as possible, but a lot of the time it's just not possible so I pirate it. Especially when it comes to music I haven't heard yet, I wouldn't risk the money on an album that could be shit.
    This reached a point where Rage Against the Machine asked UG to remove all the tabs users uploaded and that really infuriates me... greedy bastards. Good music will survive just like some bands that appeared since napster came out.
    Why download any KISS albums when you can just find them used for like $1.00 at record stores? lol
    Gene Simmons:The one human being on this earth that's more full of shit than a certain teen popstar, I'm not naming any names, but I'm pretty sure It's obvious who I'm referring to.
    Ever had that feeling of spending your hard-earned money on a new record only to discover it's terrible? That sucks. As music fans we are sensible enough to understand why artists rely on us buying their albums. I'm not going to go and buy an album from a band I hardly know after hearing a couple of songs when I can download it for free, but I will always purchase albums of the bands I really love. That's the point. If the music's good enough it will sell and, as music fans, we are responsible enough to know that we should buy albums as well. I can name so many bands I love that I only discovered after downloading one of their records for free. Then obviously I have properly purchased every album since, but the point is that I wouldn't have heard of them otherwise. Downloading can grow a fanbase and if that fanbase is responsible enough to know that albums need to be purchased AS WELL, then it is surely a good thing too?
    WOW! How did people ever find bands they liked before the internet?
    I'd be pretty happy if someone downloaded my music. If someone knows enough about you to want to download your music then you're probably doing ok.
    i agree, you may not be getting the money from it, but it still does show support for the artist.
    What's the difference between illegal downloading and streaming free music (spotify,google and others) ? There are countries where downloading is NOT illegal but sharing is.
    Jacques Nel
    What's the difference between paying a lady to have sex on camera and calling it porn, and just paying a lady to have sex and calling it prostitution?
    The difference is that in porn, none of the participants are paying each other. Stop taking your logic from Family Guy.
    The difference is that the people paying for the recording of the music get to say if you can have it for free vs. you just stealing their $#!T whether they like it our not. It's the difference between giving a beggar money, or getting mugged for your money.
    I bought it on vinyl, then I bought it on cassette, then I bought it on C.D. YOU FREAKING OWE ME A FREE ONE!
    Gene makes enough money from his overexpanded merchandise campaigns. He might be right about the decline of new artists though.
    "There won't be another Beatles or another Prince or another KISS. You better not be ****ing lying about there never being another Kiss! One was too many!
    Eddie Vedder's like, "Hey guys, bootleg our shows and share the good music!"
    to bad eddie vedder doesnt make good music!
    Really Centermass? Thats inconceivably stupid.... Hes certainly more deserving of "rock icon" status than Gene Simmons or Kurt Cobain!
    Well I agree. I fail to see how illegally downloading music can help the artist in any form. And as far as the 'publicity for the artist' argument goes, I'm sure any artist would prefer one fan that pays for their art as opposed to 10 who download illegally. What artists need do is make CDs more appealing, whether it be handouts that come with, (stickers, posters, key chains etc) or provide some form of band info/insite within cd cases. Us CD/record collectors are a dying breed.
    You fail to see how it can help a fully estbalished artist, maybe. An artist who has only 100 views is not likely to be able to charge 10 dollars for their new LP, even if it has 100s of hours of production value and money spent out of the artists pocket. Many of these artists will put the work out for free purposely in order to generate BUZZ - the most important thing for a NEW artist. I've seen countless incredibly talented metal groups who have begged and begged their fans to download their music for free, or set "pay what you can" fees. Once the buzz is generated, they make merchandise, retail copies of their album and start to go on tour, generating revenue and living their dream for the first time. Many of the same fans who downloaded will STILL PURCHASE a well-produced, well-packaged album of their favorite artist. Turning nobodies into somebodies - that's how it helps artists. Also, these artists are the ones who self-produce, thus removing the hefty costs sucked away from studios and labels. Once those greedy individuals are out of the equation, the artist them self is always much happier to give away their music than the PR guy is
    And then they wake up. Nice dream, if only it worked that way.
    Except it does work that way. Look at how Periphery came to be, it went from Misha posting a bunch of stuff on his Soundclick under his Bulb persona for free until he got enough hype that he could find bandmates, start Periphery, start touring, and now they're signed to Sumerian Records with an album that peaked 3rd on the US Billboard Hard Rock chart and 44th on the general US Billboard chart. Periphery wouldn't even exist if it wasn't for Misha releasing stuff for free.
    Even if they gave away free blowjobs with every CD, that would only devalue the MUSIC. You know, the thing you ACTUALLY want, right? Though, music is pretty much worthless anyway. People just take it for granted and once it's gone, it's gone.
    it's a shame how many unintelligent youngsters there are out in the world! I don't have to even read this article or like Gene Simmons or Kiss ( which i do) the bottom line is downloading music for free is stealing plain and simple all you lames who bitch about rich rock star greed need to grow up and stop reasoning that just because someone has made millions that they should not care about people getting their music for free! It's stealing people! stop justifying it as if it isn't because your only taking something that isn't tangible from a wealthy person! if it were up to me the whole online downloading of music would stop today so people could go outside and visit record stores and search or music the way i did it was cool i still do it to this day when i see a good music store although they are dying out that is the real shame if you never got to experience flipping through racks of albums or tapes and cd's you don't know what you missed! if you did you know exactly what i'm talking about.... we had a form of illegal downloading in the 70's and 80's it was called tape trading but no one tripped because it wasn't so massive that it could crush the industry! bring back the record shops! that is all!
    Unintelligence happens to be on both sides, if someone thinks different than you it doesn't mean they are stupid. I am a believer in work and I don't think someone should benefit countless times over for something they did once. Recordings should be advertisement for the real work which is touring
    Do you realize how much it costs to record a cd? What fantasy world do you live in?
    And gas doesn't cost money when you put it in your vehicle to get to work? It costs money to make money. Recording a compact disc costs what? $0.50. Recording sessions at a studio are probably a lot more. As far as fantasy, jesters performed for the king, they weren't the king themselves.
    Here's some simple truth: 1. Anyone defending downloading instead of buying from the bands spending the money on instruments, rehearsal room rent, gas, strings, sticks, mics, a spineless, worthless thief that isn't worthy of the music in question. 2. If anyone defending downloading in lieu of purchasing claims to love music or the artists/bands making it, they're the kind of spineless liars that are a plague on the universe. I truly hate agreeing with Gene Simmons about much of anything, but the funding to move bands forward and to invest in their development has basically died since the file sharing trend took hold. Some bands, like Iron Maiden, have figured out ways to milk the markets with heaviest incidents of downloads...but bands without those resources? Screwed right the hell over, usually out of thieves pretending to give a damn about music.
    I understand the argument, but it is really hard to take him seriously, since he would slap a Kiss logo on a toilet seat if he could
    well i agree but that is the new way for people of getting into new bands. eventually people pay them back, ive bought back all the trivium stuff i had no big deal.
    pawn shops, used record stores. flea markets, thrift stores, garage sales, misc. Am I also part of the problem for buying used music! Of course Gene probably thinks so.
    i love kiss and a huge fan of all genres of music however gene simmons can do one, i personally couldn't care wether music is downloaded legally or illigally, bands should be happy that their music is out there and people are listening and enjoying, its about the music not the money, there is enough money to be made on gigs and merch which us the fans are paying through the eyeballs for, never mind having to splash out on iTunes where we all know the majority of the cash goes to apple. also id love to hear more lesser known bands complain that "there not making enough money" ohh yeah we won't because they appreciate people listen to their music. rant over that feels better!!
    I don't illegally download music. Everything I own was purchased with my own money. That being said, the entertainment industry is a piece of shit and should be put down like the sick puppy it is. The problem in my eyes lies in the mentality that being recognized by a large portion of the populace is what validates art - this is the seed of corruption which we so readily feed our youth. At the end of the day all we as a society are contributing towards is the further construction of a monolith, a symbol of anti-virtue pervading cultures around the world, built upon an unbalanced foundation. So go ahead, download your music free. However we handle our affairs there's no good outcome for the stage we've set. (lols)
    Well I agree. I fail to see how illegally downloading music can help the artist in any form. And as far as the 'publicity for the artist' argument goes, I'm sure any artist would prefer one fan that pays for their art as opposed to 10 who download illegally. What artists need do is make CDs more appealing, whether it be handouts that come with, (stickers, posters, key chains etc) or provide some form of band info/insite within cd cases. Us CD/record collectors are a dying breed.
    I read alot of comments with people saying "if i like an album i downloaded i will go buy it" that is a load of bull and you all know it. If you download the album the most you are going to do is burn your own CD. Stop lying about it.
    I've done this? Plenty of times. If I don't know a band I'm not gonna go buy their albums, I'll try them out first, and there was a time when you couldn't youtube everything ever, spotify wasn't big etc etc so unless you were willing to throw away all your cash on CDs or you had good radio stations nearby it was hard to get into new music that wasn't mainstream.
    If you torrent an artists album then buy it later you owe that artist the cost of 2 albums so at best your rationalization means you've only stolen half of the artists work you have
    I tried to take a second and understand your logic but I'm just not seeing it.
    I do that. If I end up liking the artist I will buy the albums. I did it with metallica, megadeth, LoG the list goes on. For me it was really the only way to expose myself to that music back in the early 2000s. Radios around here don't play shit. I didn't have Much Music. I bought the back catalogs of many artist I've grown to like and if I support an artist I'll buy their new records without downloading and more likely will be there at release day.
    I always laugh whenever I see someone try to rationalize their torrenting. Either support your artists or man up to what your doing. In full disclosure I'm partial to the latter
    ^speaking the truth,people justify stealing music with their own BS of the moment instead of supporting the bands music through purchasing the album.People will always attempt the easy and cheap way before anything else its just the nature of the beast.
    KISS is just redneck glam pop-rock. Simmons cannot possibly suggest that KISS is better than Nirvana. My opinions, free information.
    I don't know of too many rednecks who dig rock bands who wear facepaint and ridiculous costumes.
    in this technological era, downloading music doesn't make sense. Just pay Spotify $10 a month, and stream the music. Much faster than messing with MP3 downloads, and the artist gets at least some royalties.
    It's only faster, safer and more easy if you don't know how to use a computer.
    Not entirely true; I'm pretty good with computers, and I've been downloading MP3's for many years now. While it's simple, and relatively quick to do, using a service like Spotify eliminates the need to transfer the music to an MP3 player for mobile listening. My only gripe with Spotify is it doesn't have bands like AC/DC or Rammstein.
    Transfering it to an mp3 player isn't that much work and its free. You need some type of connection if you want to stream and usually these aren't free. Simply said downloading means anything, anywhere, anytime so even if internet and spotify were free I'd still download because you're not depending on other parties once you have the files.
    *yawn. Maybe if the music industry would adapt and actually give some new artists a chance instead of chasing after lawsuits, there might actually be some progress. If Gene doesn't like that, then he can **** off and retire.
    Without downloading I wouldn't have spend thousands of euro's on merchandise and concert tickets. I've even bought albums that I initially downloaded just because I liked them so much. It's amazing how stupid this guy is since he doesn't even know downloading isn't illegal everywhere.
    Well the good news I guess, I didn't steal the latest KISS album, I didn't buy it either. KISS is a pale shadow of its former days of glory. Stick to family Jewels, another show I do not watch. Bands that release good albums I will buy, if they don't well I don't steal them either.
    The only music I would maybe download is "heavy rock" from the mid-70's to early 80's. Mainly band with elaborate costumes that sing about partying, Rock 'n' Roll and.....ohhhhh I see Gene.
    What if I were to play my music just because it felt good to know that people liked it?
    Why so much Kiss hate? Kiss's music has nothing to do with what Gene says. When will people get it? Why would you hate music just because you hate a band member because of what he says in his private life? I mean, you should separate this from Kiss. It has nothing to do with Kiss's music. I don't like Axl Rose as a person but I do like Guns N' Roses's music. Same with Gene and Kiss. I don't really like Gene as a person but I like Kiss's music. And I like Gene's vocals and songs and bass playing - again that has nothing to do with what kind of person Gene is in real life.