KISS bassist/vocalist Gene Simmons says that illegal music downloading is largely to blame for the music industry's decline and has once again accused the music industry of not reacting fast enough to curb the problem of illegal file sharing.
Asked in a recent interview about the effect reality TV shows and digital downloads have had on new artists, Simmons said: "I think it's all good, because the record companies are in chaos, downloading is in chaos. The foxes have been led into the hen house, so people wonder why there's so few chickens. It's because you allowed your kids to go in there and steal the stuff for free, so record companies are dying and new bands don't have a chance. And new bands should get every chance in the world, and if it means 'The X Factor' or 'American Idol' or any other kind of [outlet], give them a chance. Few of them will survive, if any. But the old-fashioned model of a record company that cares about you and spends a lot of money to try to promote you, that's gone. It doesn't affect the big bands. It doesn't affect my living. We do a hundred shows, and there's more money there than some Third-World countries. But it does intrinsically hurt new bands. You know, the next Elvis [Presley], or the next BEATLES, is gonna have a very hard time starting out today."
Simmons also spoke to U.K.'s Metal Hammer magazine about how music piracy is destroying the music industry — and how fans will ultimately suffer for it.
"I still think [downloading] is a crime," he said. "The sad part is that the fans are the ones who are killing the thing they love: great music. For fuck'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!"
While speaking at the MIPCOM convention in Cannes, France in October 2010, Simmons said that harsher punishments must be given to those caught downloading music illegally.
"Make sure your brand is protected," Simmons insisted. "Make sure there are no incursions. Be litigious. Sue everybody. Take their homes, their cars. Don't let anybody cross that line."
The rocker continued by saying that lawsuits against illegal file-sharers should have happened sooner.
"The music industry was asleep at the wheel," he said. "And [they] didn't have the balls to sue every fresh-faced, freckle-faced college kid who downloaded material. And so now we're left with hundreds of thousands of people without jobs. There's no industry."