KISS frontman Paul Stanley believes that illegal music downloading is "morally" and "ethically wrong," and laments the fact that new artists "don't have a chance in hell" of "ever getting that pot of gold."
During an appearance on the "The Joe Rogan Experience" podcast, Stanley was asked what KISS' chances of success would be like if the band was starting out today. He replied: "We'd be fucked, in plain English, because the music industry as it exists today is not even an industry, it's just shambles. And now artists are in a position to have to take what the public, so to speak, is willing to give them. In other words, with this onset of 'file sharing'… well, file sharing is just a fancy way of saying 'stealing.' You can't share what you don't own. The idea that somebody is taking songs or music off the Internet and taking it for free and calling it 'file sharing' is like me saying 'transportation borrowing,' and I steal you car."
He continued: "When people create art with the hope of being not only accepted but also being rewarded so they can pay their rent and send their kids to school and things like that, and that doesn't happen, that's what stealing does. But the person who steals on the Internet somehow doesn't feel the same as going into a store and stealing a cassette — which don't even exist anymore. But if you go into a store, if you go into a Barnes & Noble or some place and steal a book, that's blatantly, and very clearly, illegal. Downloading something somehow skirts the ethical and moral question of taking something that doesn't belong to you and not paying the person for it…
"The truth is what you don't own you can't take for free. You can, but it's wrong. It's morally wrong, it's ethically wrong, and it hurts people."
Stanley added: "Look, for me, it's a question more about morality in my case. It's not gonna change my life any, but it sure bothers me that somebody is taking what they don't own, and it bothers me that somebody who's trying to succeed now and starting off doesn't have a chance in hell, more than likely, of ever getting that pot of gold."
When Rogan pointed out to Stanley that is still possible for some artists to get that "pot of gold" through touring and merchandise sales, Stanley replied: "Yeah, but that shouldn't be dictated to by the circumstances, that should be a choice. The idea, 'Well, you're still getting…' Well, who are you to decide where I get my money? 'Well, you're still getting it over there?' But since when do you have jurisdiction over my revenue."
Stanley also spoke about other artists' reluctance to join METALLICA's infamous lawsuit in 2000 against the Napster file-sharing service and drummer Lars Ulrich's legal battle with the company, which effectively drove Napster out of business. The KISS frontman said: "Well, a lot of artists are wondering where their royalties are now. You can't put milk back in a bottle — spilled milk — and, unfortunately, things transpired that there's really no getting around at this point. So was Lars out of line? No. He was just saying, 'I should be paid.' It has nothing to do with whether he's wealthy or not. Who are you to dictate that he has enough?"
Asked if there is any way for artists and music fans to "meet in the middle" and find an acceptable solution to the illegal music downloading problem, Stanley said: "Why do I have to meet you in the middle? Why do I have to compromise because of circumstance? You should respect my integrity and you should respect my art instead of me going, 'All right, well, you got me. So I'll take 50 cents on the dollar instead of you giving me the dollar?' Wrong. It's wrong."
He continued: "Was it Thom Yorke and his band [RADIOHEAD]…. Didn't they do an album [2007's 'In Rainbows'] where they offered it on the Internet and said, 'Just pay what you would like for it'? Well, they got nothing. You know how much they got? Nothing. Look and see what it averaged per album. It was a total stupid move. And I don't think they'll do that again."
Stanley added: "Most of the time, the guy who wants to share the most has the least to share."