When KISS bassist Gene Simmons commented negatively on depression and suicide, I cheered Nikki Sixx for picking his argument apart. Now it’s my turn to pick apart a comment Simmons made.
He said rock is dead.
Truth is, I like Simmons. He’s given a lot to rock, and I still love listening to KISS, especially the music it put out in the 1970s and early ’80s. I love, too, Gene Simmons Family Jewels, the reality show he’s done with his family in more recent years.
But in an interview he did with his son Nick for Esquire, he said:
It’s very sad for new bands. My heart goes out to them. They just don’t have a chance. If you play guitar, it’s almost impossible. You’re better off not even learning how to play guitar or write songs, and just singing in the shower and auditioning for The X Factor. And I’m not slamming The X Factor, or pop singers. But where’s the next Bob Dylan? Where’s the next Beatles? Where are the songwriters? Where are the creators? Many of them now have to work behind the scenes, to prop up pop acts and write their stuff for them.
The more Simmons elaborates, though, the more you see that he’s talking more about the music industry’s business model than the strength of today’s music. Specifically, he blames file sharing on the Internet.
His complaints aren’t new. In the past few years I’ve heard him in interviews, lamenting how modern technology has killed the music industry. Record companies used to pay bands big bucks for their music and took care of all the musicians’ needs. Now anyone can record songs on a laptop and distribute it online.
As Billy Joel once sang, “The good old days weren’t always good and tomorrow’s not as bad as it seems.” If anything, modern technology makes it easier for musicians to be heard. I’m not yet confident enough a guitar player to put my music on SoundCloud, but I could do so anytime I want, and that’s empowering.
All that’s needed for rock to live on are musicians with the emotion and drive to keep writing, recording and playing live. Some of my personal favorites in terms of newer bands include Cage The Elephant, Avenged Sevenfold and The Pretty Reckless.
They will keep playing no matter what shape the music industry takes. As a result, the music that I rely on to get through life will never be in short supply.
Business models for the music industry will come and go. But rock will never die.