Yes, for rock fans, it seems the end has come. The harbinger of the end has come and sounded the death knell. In a recent interview with Esquire, Gene Simmons of Kiss stated that
“for performers who are also songwriters — the creators — for rock music, for soul, for the blues — it's finally dead. Rock is finally dead.”
An absolute statement to say the least, but reading further into it, he makes the point that it’s not due to taste or it being worn out, it was that no one will pay you to make rock music anymore. He said
"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.”
Although he brings up a strong issue of file-sharing, his ideas miss an important concept.
Rock music is about the music, not the money, and many artists are yelling this back to Simmons. Probably one of the more prominent responses came from Dee Snider of Twisted Sister making an official post on his website saying
"Recently, my esteemed colleague, Gene Simmons of Kiss declared that ‘Rock 'n' Roll is finally dead’. Really? While I have nothing but respect for Gene, he couldn't be further off the mark. Yes, the rock 'n' roll ‘business model’ that helped Kiss (and my band for that matter) achieve fame and fortune is most certainly long dead and buried, but rock 'n' roll is alive and well and thriving on social media, in the streets, and in clubs and concert halls all over the world. And the bands playing it are more genuine and heartfelt than ever because they are in it for one reason: the love of rock 'n' roll. Spend some time seeing and listening to these incredible young bands and their rabid fans and you will know that rock 'n' roll couldn't be more alive. Yes, it's not the same as it was for the first 50 years of rock’s existence, but the fire definitely still burns.”
A strong counterpoint, but Dee Snider isn’t the only artist fighting Simmons’ statements. As esteemed guitarist Slash told Ultimate Classic Rock
“But, that said, the rock and roll audience is rabid. [It's] huge and just as alive and kicking as it ever was. So, I get what [Simmons is] saying, but I also think that it's really great to, kind of, just sort of, separate the men from the boys, where if you're really passionate about the kind of music that you wanna do and you're not looking at it from a dollars-and-cents point of view, but you just wanna create new music and somehow go out there and play live and get it out there, that passion for it has to be honed in and it has to be real.”
Many other artists have weighed in on the topic including Shaun Morgan of Seether, Josh Todd of Buckcherry, Dave Grohl of The Foo Fighters, and Corey Taylor of Slipknot.
All of these artists and many fans have come together to fight back against this claim, and all of them are saying the same thing. Rock music is not dead; the fans, the artists, and the music are still there, so it can never be truly dead, even if the money may never be what it was while ago. There is always something to take away from events like this, though. Someone prominent will always be stepping forward to say “X is dead” or “Y will never be what it was”, and it’s the job of every fan and artist to prove them wrong. With how large social media has become, how any kind of music can be at in our grasp at any given moment, and just the internet as a whole, any kind of music can never truly die. There will always be at least one fan voicing his very detailed opinions on vaporwave, or bedroom folk, or some other obscure genre on some blog somewhere...