Opinion: Gene Simmons’ ‘The Vault’ is an insult to the KISS Army
I have been debating writing my honest opinions on Gene Simmons‘ The Vault for quite some time. There are a lot of reasons for me not to write an opinion piece about this. As a lifelong KISS fan, it would always make me feel heartbroken when the critics would rag on a band I love so much. KISS was my gateway band into becoming a music fan, and over the years, I’ve gladly bought every studio album the band has released, and even the five disc KISS Box Set. I have supported the band through concert tickets, CD sales, DVD sales, and random other pieces of merchandise like comics and toys. I love the band and am a lifelong fan.
But, because I’m a lifelong KISS fan, because I love the band so much, I’m going to go out and say it: Gene Simmons‘ The Vault is an insult to KISS fans everywhere.
Now, that’s not to say that Gene Simmons‘ The Vault isn’t a great package. Eleven tracks of unreleased KISS rarities, a cool action figure of Gene Simmons and the chance to meet Gene in person is all very cool. The problem comes down to the price: $2,000.
There have been other expensive KISS collectors’ items over the years, and there have been very expensive meet and greet opportunities in the past as well. Not every KISS fan can afford the KISS Kruise or a VIP meet and greet, or to buy the world’s largest KISS comic. Many of us in the KISS Army are hard-working middle class Americans who can afford to spend $10 on a CD or maybe splurge on an $80 KISS Box Set, but simply can’t afford the indulgences of a meet and greet or the like. And that’s always been fine with us, because we’ve always had the same access to the music and albums. Even if you can’t afford to go onto the KISS Kruise to hear the band perform super rare, deep cuts live, you can always listen to those deep cuts on the CD you bought.
This is the first time that the band has created a divide between the fans when it comes to access to the music, and this is where I have a problem. KISS has always been a band that proclaimed that they make music “for the people”, but this box set is only for the “wealthy people” or “poor people who make very bad financial choices.” I’ve spoken with many KISS fans who want to buy the box set because they love the music of KISS, but with car payments, mortgages and the responsibilities of being a reasonable adult, they can’t afford to spend $2,000 on a box set. And then you have kids, young KISS fans, who can’t afford to spend $2,000 on a band because most kids don’t have access to $2,000.
The average CD costs around $10 these days, so a box set of eleven CDs should come to around $110. It’s a very reasonable fee that someone can save up for and truly appreciate some great music. Hell, even $200 is reasonable for that amount of music as a collector’s item. But $2,000 is ridiculous.
There have been deluxe editions and collectors’ edition packages of many pieces of band merchandise over the years, but this box set marks the first time that the “standard edition” of the product isn’t accessible to most of the fanbase. I’d be fine with a $2,000 version of The Vault where you get to meet Gene if there was also a $200 version where you just got the music without any kind of meet and greet. But, because there is only the $2,000 option, there is no opportunity for the poorer (or rather, the average) KISS fan to have access to this music. It is a shame.
I saw a post on Facebook stating that you aren’t a true KISS fan if you don’t buy this box set. The post stated that you could work a second or third job to afford it or just sell off your car and ride the bus for a year. That is ridiculous and absurd. No fan should put themselves into financial hardship just to support a band. That is absolute insanity. No band is worthy of that kind of loyalty, and that’s because that loyalty is completely one-sided.
Do you think there is a chance in hell that Gene Simmons would put himself in financial hardship to get a Beatles box set? Would Gene “ride the bus for a year” or work three jobs to get some CDs and an action figure? Hell no. And would Gene put himself in a bad situation that led to years of struggle over a poor financial choice to support YOU? Of course not.
Gene, I love you and your music. You inspired me to create my own band and the message of believing in yourself and following your dreams has helped save me through some dark times. I’ve stood up for the band for years, believing KISS to be a band for the people. I was wrong.
I still love the music and the songs, and I always will, but my loyalty to KISS is officially gone. And I’m sure there will be the obvious criticisms of this article. People will say that my band sucks and who cares about the opinion of the guy from Lipstick. People will say that I’m just doing this for the press. People will say that it’s my fault that I can’t afford the box set, that I should work harder and sell my car to afford that Gene Simmons action figure. People will say that the market decides these things, and if Gene wants to sell the box set for that price, he has every right to. And he does. And I have the right to say it’s bullshit to deny access to the vast majority of your fanbase, to blue collar working Americans who would gladly buy the songs at fair market value, to limit the access of your fans based upon their position in class structure.
Jim Steinman, the songwriter famous for Meat Loaf‘s Bat Out of Hell, once said that he made music for the “kid in Kansas.” He described the imaginary kid as someone without a lot of money who managed to buy an album and listened to it with his headphones on and was blown away by the majesty of the music. For me, that’s what music is too. It’s to take people away to a special place, and it’s something I think everyone should have access too. It shouldn’t be free, it should be earned, but there should be access. And as someone who has defended KISS‘ music for over a decade, it’s heartbreaking to hear from so many fellow KISS fans that they can’t afford The Vault, because all they want to do is hear the MUSIC. KISS has been a band that always complained about elitism from critics, but to see the band engage in its own brand of elitism is disgusting.
Well, at least I can always listen to the other 24 albums.