From $5,000 dollar fan VIP experiences to purportedly licensing their name to over 5,000 products, in 2022 the name KISS represents a multimillion dollar franchise as much as it does a band. In a new interview, Gene Simmons has recently doubled down on the approach he takes to music.
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While the Financial Times called KISS “rock’s greatest capitalists,” Business Insider called bass player Gene Simmons “the business architect behind the band.” Simmons may have several business ventures peripheral to the band, from LA KISS arena football team to Cool Springs financial services, but he is the first to declare that the band is just as much a money-making scheme as any of these; describing being in a touring band in no uncertain terms as “big business.”
“You can kind of move around your art based on whether you want to please other people or just yourself, which is the eternal push and pull,” he recently told Ultimate Guitar. “Whether you’re a writer or a painter, or musician or a sculptor, you’re either doing it for yourself or other people. If the two meet, you like what you’re doing, and they like what you’re doing, you’re really happy. But often, it’s a hard choice. [You might say] “I like it, I don’t care if anybody else likes it.” Or,[you might have] the guy who does it all for people, even though he might hate it, which in my opinion is just as valid and just as ethical as anything else.
“Imagine going into a restaurant, and there’s a chef there who is world-famous and he personally hates spinach – wouldn’t touch it if he gags,” continued Simmons. “And you walk up to the chef and say, ‘can you make me a spinach soufflé?’ The chef would say, ‘of course’, and he makes you the thing and you eat it. He doesn’t have to like it. His job is to give you exactly what you want, even though he hates it. And that’s ethical. You do the best you can – you do the work. And so, I think it’s perfectly valid. [People say to me] ‘You sellout.’ You’re damn right, bitch. I sell out every night.”
Simmons’ modus operandi has not been without its controversies. $3.99 Kiss ‘air guitar strings’ prompted criticism upon their release in 2017, while more recently a fan accused Simmons of greed and a bullying, after his conduct on Twitter led to rumours that he was profiting from tweeting about currencies like Dogecoin and Ethereal. Simmons responded by telling fans to “do your own research”.