You have to hand it to him: Kiss bass player Gene Simmons is never short of entrepreneurial ideas. With over 3,000 product licensing categories (including condoms and coffins), it's clear Gene and guitarist Paul Stanley know how to leverage a brand.
Add one more item to the list: Gene's 10-CD box set, The Vault. It includes 150 previously unreleased recordings with a track-by-track commentary for every song, a Gene action figure (no word on whether it sticks out its tongue), a commemorative coin, and a "personal gift" from Gene's archives.
But wait -- there's more!
If you order the Gene Simmons Home Experience, not only is the shipping free, Gene will hand deliver your Vault to your doorstep -- and then spend two hours hanging out with you and up to 25 of your closest friends.
All that for only $50,000.
Granted 50 big ones might be a little steep for the average fan's budget, but that's OK. For $25,000, the Gene Simmons Producer Experience lets you and a guest spend an hour with Gene in a recording studio listening to music, take a few photos, and pick up your Vault when you leave.
Still too pricey? For $2,000, you can pick up your Vault at a Gene Simmons Vault Experience location (the closest to me is in Philadelphia), hang out with fellow fans, and get five minutes of quality personal time with Gene.
I know what you're thinking: Crazy, right?
For one thing, Gene has spent a lifetime generating revenue from ventures other people thought were crazy. (In 2016 alone the band signed 125 licensing partnerships worldwide.)
For another, I'll bet there are plenty of fans with money who would love the chance to meet Gene--and impress their friends and neighbors--by having him come to their house. And if you don't want spring for the whole $50,000 for Gene to come to your home, if you and 24 other die-hard Kiss fan friends all chipped in $2,000 each, that could feel like a bargain.
Plus, the $2,000 price tag for a Vault Experience isn't out of line with what Kiss fans typically pay for concert meet-and-greets. Several years ago, Kiss performed in Virginia Beach and the $1,250 VIP tickets sold out. (I didn't go to the meet-and-greet, but I did spend the day with Phil Collen of Def Leppard, and later talked to a number of people who were absolutely thrilled to have met Gene and Paul and the boys before the show.) In relative terms, spending $2,000 for face time, photos, and a limited-edition box set doesn't sound too far off the mark.
That's the thing: Gene knows his customers, knows his market...he's nothing if not savvy where all things Kiss are concerned. And this venture will only serve to expand on that knowledge, letting him see firsthand what his "premium" customers want--and how much they're willing to pay.
As Kiss guitarist and vocalist Paul Stanley once said, "It's undeniable that the [non-traditional] revenue streams can be enormous, and to not maximize your potential outside of music would be absurd. It is the music business, and the business element doesn't negate or detract from the other end of it. We're a band, and we're a brand. And without one, the other suffers."
So Gene: Good on ya, mate, for thinking outside the box yet again. I don't know of any other rock stars of your profile who have visited fans in their homes. Someone had to be first. It's no surprise you turned out to be that someone.
And it would be foolish to bet against you.