Following a year of canceled live music events due to the COVID-19 pandemic, including his own KISS world tour, Rock And Roll Hall Of Famer Gene Simmons met with key members of Congress where he was able to outline some of the most pressing issues directly affecting American music creators. Simmons participated in the meeting as part of ASCAP's ongoing advocacy efforts in their "Stand With Songwriters" sessions.
"The music that moves the world — R&B, rock, blues, country western, various jazz — was all invented right here in America by the people who now can't even quit their day job to devote their time to art," said Simmons. "There's not going to be another Lennon, McCartney or Gershwin or somebody else because — even though the talent is out there — most people don't realize every time you download a song, the songwriter is making minuscule amounts of one penny."
"Protecting the rights of American music creators and defending the value of music has always been a core part of ASCAP's mission, and we are thrilled to have some of our most talented members join us as we urge lawmakers in Washington to support the people who make the music we all know and love," said ASCAP CEO Elizabeth Matthews.
The pandemic has created unique challenges for the entire music industry — from songwriters, composers and music publishers to performance venues — but, as music creators became more dependent upon streaming income during lockdown, it has also highlighted how outdated music licensing rules no longer work in the modern digital music marketplace. Now, more than ever, music creators need to be able to earn a fair, livable wage for when their music is played. During "Stand With Songwriters" Advocacy Month, ASCAP members will encourage members of Congress to stand with songwriters during this difficult time and help music creators rebuild and modernize America's vibrant music industry.
To learn more about ASCAP's music creator advocacy efforts, visit www.ascap.com/advocacy.
In a 2019 interview with the Larry King YouTube channel, Simmons spoke about the state of the rock scene and the impact of digital streaming services on the music industry. He said: "I've said this 10 years ago, when streaming and downloading and all that stuff was for free. RADIOHEAD, it bears noting, tried to do a brand new record and said to their fans, 'Pay whatever you will.' It's interesting to note it hasn't been done since, 'cause it doesn't work. If you leave the doors open in a supermarket and say, 'Pay whatever you want,' people will just go ahead and pay nothing. But it doesn't work, because people would rather get stuff for free.
"My heart goes out to new bands," he continued. "There's so much good talent out there that will never get a chance. Right now in the zeitgeist, they think, 'Okay, music industry. I get on 'X Factor' or 'The Voice' and I sing, and then I have a career. They have no idea what it means. The other thing is that record companies simply cannot make money.
"My daughter, Sophie, is a huge Spotify writer, singer and all that. She's written for Rick Ross and Yellow Claw and all these kinds of [artists]. She's got tons of songs that have been downloaded millions and millions of times. You can download something 10 million times and make a few hundred bucks.
"The record industry is dead for new artists," Gene added. "Rock is dead. The last great rock band was the FOO FIGHTERS, and that's 20 years ago. You can't name another rock band, because you can't make a living.
"When I first started in '73, there was still a record industry, and the record company, which we used to talk badly about, was the best friend you ever had — they gave you millions of dollars and tour support and all that, and they only took money back from the records you sold. So you sold records, and then people showed up and got all that live money and the licensing and the merchandising.
"Until legislators become well educated and understand the nature of the business, they're unqualified to talk about copyrights or the record industry."