CMW’s Big Event

Canadian Music Week took place once again in Toronto, this time March 11-14 at the Royal York Hotel and other venues around the city. One of its highlights included a debate between a member of KISS and a critic.

The country’s annual exposition for live music, industry discussion and film review included music by 500 artists over five evenings, awards shows including the Canadian Music and Broadcast Industry Awards and CMW’s Music For The Screen Film Festival.

There was also the music industry conference that included a keynote by KISS bassist and entrepreneur Gene Simmons. That speech somehow ratcheted up to a debate between Simmons and Bob Lefsetz, music business commentator and lightning rod.

Lefsetz took Simmons to task, claiming the speech was not an inspirational pep talk, nor an incendiary indictment of the current climate, as much as it was a commercial for Simmons’ business ventures.

Simmons posted Lefsetz’s commentary on a Web site, then responded point by point. “And your point is?” Simmons said, in a nutshell, suggesting that Lefsetz is a loser living in his mom’s basement.

Lefsetz in turn posted Simmons’ commentary. Soon, CMW officials found an empty meeting room for the two to hash it out.

The debate was ostensibly about Simmons’ venture with Universal Music Canada. He claimed his record company would revive the recording industry and that he was passionate about the bands he signed. Lefsetz doesn’t think Simmons has a business resume that can back his claims.

However, the “debate” was mostly a hodgepodge of ad hominem attacks by Simmons, who argued Lefsetz’ criticism was invalid because he didn’t have as much money as the KISS musician. He also questioned why he was arguing with a “lonely man trying to get attention” and even why he was on stage with Lefsetz.
Lefsetz reminded Simmons that the musician was the one who set up the debate and explained they were there because Simmons made the cardinal sin of answering his critics.

Lefsetz, though, was not above a few ad hominem attacks of his own.

“If you sign with Gene Simmons, and you have a creative issue with your artist, can you imagine having a conversation like [this]?” Lefsetz, an attorney, said. “I don’t want to debate the law with you for using [my image from this debate] for commercial purposes, but the point is this: You are an asshole.”

Simmons did not shy away from the argument that he was at CMW to promote his record company, and ended the debate with a little more promotion. At one point, Simmons noted that, unlike Kurt Cobain, he didn’t blow his brains out to get on the cover of Rolling Stone – a remark that stunned even his supporters in the audience.