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Music piracy has “murdered” rock and roll, says Gene Simmons

Rock music is finally dead in the opinion of legendary Kiss member Gene Simmons — and online piracy is the culprit. In a new interview written by his son Nick, the artist says that dwindling royalty payments and a more competitive market have killed off the opportunity to make a living from music outside of the major manufactured pop acts.

“Rock did not die of old age,” he says in Esquire. “It was murdered. And the real culprit is that kid’s 15-year-old next-door neighbor, probably a friend of his. Maybe even one of the bandmates he’s jamming with. The tragedy is that they seem to have no idea that they just killed their own opportunity — they killed the artists they would have loved. Some brilliance, somewhere, was going to be expressed, and now it won’t, because it’s that much harder to earn a living playing and writing songs. No one will pay you to do it.”

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Simmons says without the backing of a record company, artists won’t be able to develop as they have in the past. “The masses do not recognize file-sharing and downloading as stealing because there’s a copy left behind for you — it’s not that copy that’s the problem, it’s the other one that someone received but didn’t pay for,” he explains. “The problem is that nobody will pay you for the 10,000 hours you put in to create what you created. I can only imagine the frustration of all that work, and having no one value it enough to pay you for it.”

The absence of any iconic bands — on the level of The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, U2, Pink Floyd — in the Internet age of music is proof that standards are slipping, according to the musician. Artists that would previously have become huge are now struggling to get by and often making a living by supporting the acts that make up the top 40.

“It’s very sad for new bands. My heart goes out to them. They just don’t have a chance,” Simmons says. “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.”

Whether Kiss is your kind of music or not, the interview is well worth reading in full. Simmons also touches on free market capitalism, changes in the American psyche, immigration and Nirvana. Do you think filesharing has killed off the spirit of rock and roll? Or is there still hope for the future outside of musical juggernauts such as Gangnam Style? Let us know in the comments.

[Image: Alberto Cabello/Flickr]