Gene Simmons may not be the most sympathetic figure in conversations about artists rights in the digital age but there is something to be said when he and Jaron Lanier make essentially the same observations about the future of music and artist revenue streams.
Simmons is quoted in a new interview in Esquire Magazine, “Rock Is Finally Dead”:
“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. 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.
It’s very sad for new bands. My heart goes out to them. They just don’t have a chance. 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.”
Simmons goes on to state that music and culture have stagnated. He asks what great bands and artists have emerged in the post internet era?
Jaron Lanier made essentially the same observation back in 2010 in an interview with The New York Times, “The Madness of Crowds and an Internet Delusion.“
“…authors, journalists, musicians and artists are encouraged to treat the fruits of their intellects and imaginations as fragments to be given without pay to the hive mind. Reciprocity takes the form of self-promotion. Culture is to become precisely nothing but advertising.
It’s as if culture froze just before it became digitally open, and all we can do now is mine the past like salvagers picking over a garbage dump,” Mr. Lanier writes. Or, to use another of his grim metaphors: “Creative people — the new peasants — come to resemble animals converging on shrinking oases of old media in a depleted desert.”
It speaks volumes when two people of such different backgrounds and perspectives make the same observation.