Kiss – And Make A Lot Of Money From IP



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Faced with the inevitable march of time, when iconic face-painting American rockers concluded their farewell tour at New York's Madison Square Gardens in December 2023...
South Africa Intellectual Property
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Faced with the inevitable march of time, when iconic face-painting American rockers concluded their farewell tour at New York's Madison Square Gardens in December 2023, the KISS Army and the music world at large waited to see what was to come next for one of music's most enigmatic and ubiquitous brands. Attendees at that final gig were treated to a preview when KISS revealed digital avatars playing God Gave Rock 'N' Roll to You II.


*Image credit


The rock band KISS was founded way back in 1973, which of course means that they have been around for some 50 years ... a few of you are already thinking, I was around when KISS became a thing! Over that period KISS has sold some 100 million records. The band is, of course, famous for its passion for face-paint.

The band sells up

The news recently broke that KISS had sold its 'back catalogue' of songs to a Swedish music investor, Pophouse Entertainment, for a figure around US$300 million – this transaction took place shortly after the band's End of the Road tour. Pophouse also bought the band's 'brand, likeness and intellectual property' – the article makes the point that this will entitle Pophouse to generate future AI-generated content.


Pophouse was co-founded by Bjorn Ulvaeus of ABBA, a band you may well remember for the song Money Money Money. Pophouse previously collaborated with KISS on a digital avatar project and it produced the Abba Voyage concerts.

The price

The band's leaders are Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley. Gene Simmons had this to say about the purchase price: 'We will be able to pay our rent.' And this is about the band's principles: 'But for any amount of money we wouldn't get into bed with the wrong folks.' He went on to describe Pophouse Entertainment as 'our newest best friends for the rest of our lives'. They're deep, these rock stars!

A good buy

Per Sundin, the CEO of Pophouse, said this about the transaction: 'They have a unique IP in the dresses and the personas, and they have fantastic music, and they have fans all over the world in all the generations.'

Brand development

We're told that KISS will be closely involved in 'ongoing brand development and AI-generated material that leans into the band's library of work'.

Brand extension

The band seemingly gets the whole brand extension thing, and claims to have applied its brand on some 5000 products - 'everything from coffee to condoms and even coffins.'

But some areas remain off-limits. According to Simmons, 'KISS crack is probably not a good idea. No KISS cigarettes. But the rest of the world is open, why not? Branding makes things fun.' Yes, it's those principles again!

Nothing new here

We have in previous articles reported on the fairly recent business practice of ageing musical artists selling their music portfolios in order to fund retirement. Names that come to mind are Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and Genesis.

An asset class

We're told that 'legacy artist catalogues are now commonly seen by private equity as a dependable investable asset class, it seems clear that avatar-enabled legacy artist concerts represents a logical next step in securing revenue streams.'

Avatars – how do fans feel about them?

It's probably too early to tell. This is what we're told (it does sound a tad dystopian):

'Whether fans engage and respond to avatar-based performance in the same way as human interaction will remain to be seen. That said, adding artificial intelligence into the mix and maintaining a pre-requisite of ''the artist as human'' may become of secondary concern to industry and investment stakeholders.'

The humble trade mark

These words from the DCC article will be music to the ears of any IP lawyer:

'At the core of any future proofing strategy for many an artist will remain the humble trade mark. Securing a monopoly to market defining signs including names, logos, signatures, songs and album titles and even artwork will remain a fundamental and essential prerequisite to best positioning the artist, band and brand to take advantage of future opportunities. KISS like The Rolling Stones, ABBA, AC/DC. Metallica, U2, Taylor Swift, Black Sabbath, Queen, ID and Ben Harper... have invested in securing future revenue streams through trade mark registration.'

How not to make money from IP

We end this article with something slightly different.

Remember Sugar Baby Love by The Rublettes? No, US neither, but it was apparently a hit in 1974 , occupying the top spot in the UK charts for four weeks. But it was all downhill from there, with some pretty serious in-fighting amongst the band members.

We won't bore you with the details but the matter ended up in the European Intellectual Property Office ("EUIPO"), which ruled that an application by one of the band members to register the name "The Rubletttes" had been filed in bad faith, and that the registration should be cancelled. It could have been so different!

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