I read a blog post this week titled:

10 Marketing Lessons I Learned from KISS

It was written by Michael Brandvold, who for a time managed the bands website. Now everyone knows that the guys in KISS are the greatest merchandisers on the planet, are very smart guys.

But……. Number 6 on the list is as follows:

6. Treat the media with respect. – You need to love the media! Radio, TV, magazines, newspapers, websites, bloggers, photographers…. all of them! They can make you look like kings or they can make you look like has beens. At every single show KISS performs they give the photographers pose after pose for perfect photos, so they look great in the paper the next day. I have seen them stop and give a reporter or photographer backstage a extra two minutes of undivided attention so they get the cover. Treat the media like the gatekeepers, because they are!

WOW, I wonder what band he was working for!! KISS in the old days followed that credo exactly. It was very difficult to not get great photos. The band would pose for pictures during songs, sometime forgetting lyrics or notes. But photographers loved them!

Everything changed in the 1980’s when the bands career hit the skids. All of a sudden, we could only shoot the first three songs. Contracts appeared. And then it got worse. When all the original members got back together in makeup, they booked a huge tour. I got a call from George, their tour manager, asking me if I wanted to shoot the show. I asked what the restrictions were. He told me that I could shoot the entire show, even get on stage if I wanted. COOL!! Only one thing!! At the end of  the show, I was to meet him behind the stage. He would have an envelope with my name and contact information with him. I would put all of my exposed film in the envelope. He would seal it up, and take it with him. KISS would pay to process all the film. After the film was processed, the band would pick up to 5 images and would return them to me to license to publications. KISS would then own all the rest of the photos, and could use them any time they wanted to, without paying me or giving me photo credit!! WHAT A DEAL!!!

He couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t take the deal. I asked him if anyone had actually went for it. “Plenty of people,” he said. I asked him if he knew any of them. He thought about it for a second and then told me that he had never heard of any of them. He said “I haven’t seen any of you guys” (meaning the professionals who had helped the band become the stars that they were)

I wonder why!

I never photographed KISS again.

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