Is that Gene Simmons of KISS fame,
It’s the latest in a string of products that Simmons has marketed, beginning with KISS, the mega-successful American rock band that he co-founded in 1973. When the group was recording its 20 albums, selling more than 100 million records and packing concert stadiums, the band was in effect, a brand. KISS, and Simmons, were ahead of their time.
There are believed to be some 5,000 officially licensed and merchandised KISS items (apparently, someone counted) including action figures, comic books, pinball machines, credit cards, condoms and even an official KISS casket. Simmons is widely credited with being the mind behind the merchandising, the brains behind slapping the KISS name on virtually every item imaginable.
Now 68, the Israeli-born bass guitarist – one of the world’s most recognized celebrities – is renowned for being as much a musician as a shrewd entrepreneur. Other Simmons projects include co-founding an arena football team, producing movies (including the new Wesley Snipes vehicle, Armed Response), building a golf course, opening a coffee shop, and even horse-racing tracks. The rock icon is also co-founding partner of Rock and Brews restaurants, which has locations in the U.S. (California, New Mexico, Kansas, Florida and Hawaii) as well as Mexico.
Simmons kept his media profile high with reality TV like Gene Simmons Family Jewels, which was on for nine seasons, and a stint on Celebrity Apprentice, as an actor (CSI, Castle), and an author of seven bestselling books. His show business influence isn’t limited to KISS, either: Simmons managed singer-actress Liza Minnelli’s career, and also discovered legendary rock band Van Halen.
“I live to make more money,” Simmons, whose estimated worth is over $300 million, told The Edge. “Life is business.”
What about Gene Simmons makes him a global influencer, a marketing wunderkind, a branding mastermind, and still famous after all these years? With his forthcoming book, On Power, the near-septuagenarian suggests that it starts with striving towards a simple goal.
“At the end of the day, it’s better for the ‘good guys’ to have the power than the ‘bad guys’… It is your duty to be powerful, technologically speaking, physically, mentally, your self-esteem, but also who you are, where you are, what you do, who you do it with,” he insists. “And to keep getting more and more powerful, if only not to get picked on, if only not to be wrapping fish for somebody else who maybe isn’t a nice person. It is your duty to become more and more powerful every day.”
The “how” was aptly described in his 2014 book, Me Inc., which is filled with business advice on what to pursue, and what to stay clear away from.
“In simple terms, all those books and classes you take where people charge you a lot of money – 10 Secrets of Success, How to be Rich and Famous and Powerful in Ten Steps – they are lies,| Simmons explains. “Clearly, they’re lies because if all we had to do was follow those ten steps, we’d all be rich, famous, and powerful, right? But it’s not like cooking directions.”
“By and large, the same cake gets made by everybody,” he continues. “In cooking, that works. In life, it doesn’t. Life is a journey, and often it’s an individual one. But you have huge advantages to have the right thing, at the right place, in the right time.”
One example he introduces is if KISS – in an alternate universe – was launched hundreds of years ago, “we’d be laughed off the face of the planet, doing exactly the same thing, but at the wrong time.”
Simmons believes it’s imperative for businesses to offer the right thing, in a place that gains maximum exposure.
“If you do it in a small town, you’ll be famous in that small town,” he notes. “You’ve got to be in the middle of the largest population center, and use media to go out there, because the mountain, Mohammed, is not going to come to you.”
And as much as the right external conditions are required for any business venture, the KISS star says that finding a way to have it embraced by the public is just as relevant.
“You’ve got to have a thing, a product, whatever,” he says, “and you’ve got to convince people that they cannot live without whatever the hell it is that you have, even if it’s the power of your personality.”
Dave Gordon | The Edge Blog