FOREIGNER's KELLY HANSEN: 'I Have A Cynical View Of What's Going Forward For The Music Business'

August 21, 2023

In a new interview with the "In Search Of Excellence" podcast, FOREIGNER singer Kelly Hansen was asked for his opinion on the current state of the music business and where it is going. Kelly responded (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "I wish I wasn't as cynical as I am, especially with AI now.

"I was sitting in a restaurant next to a very famous rapper, and I didn't know who he was, but we started up a conversation. We were right next to each other at the sushi bar. I bought him a sake and we started talking, and I was very curious about what the current artists are doing. And I said, 'Where do your revenue streams come from?' And he said, 'Live.' And I'm like, 'What?' I'm like, 'That's the only place we make money.' He goes, 'I use social media to direct to live,' and we use, you know, years of people knowing the music and continuing to put on a great show to drive people to live.

"Live is the only place you're making any money," Hansen explained. "If you have a giant catalog of hits, I would've suggested you sold it 10 years ago, because I can't see a scenario where your catalog's gonna make more. It's not gonna have a a growth life to it unless something happens. But what I see now is everybody's stealing everything and no one's paying anybody anything. And if I can steal Frank Sinatra's voice in AI to make a TikTok clip that gets me a hundred thousand followers or likes or listens, and it makes me add money, what the hell? What's going on? What does Frank Sinatra's estate say about that? I've done so many interviews and sung so many songs, I could be AIed tomorrow and no one would need me anymore.

"So I feel that I'm making a wise choice [by retiring from touring]. I have a cynical view of what's going forward for the music business.

"I read a story, and I verified it with a playlist, that there is a certain music platform out there that's creating songs by computer," Kelly added. "And the same song is by 40 different bands and 40 different arrangements, 40 different titles, and it's the same song. And because they know that if you have 15 songs an hour in a playlist, they have to pay out their minuscule royalties to 15 songwriting entities. But if a third of that, or 20% of that, is computer-created content. They don't have to pay anybody anything. So now they have a 20 or 30% saving on the royalties they have to pay out when they're already making billions of dollars on subscriptions, and the artist is getting absolutely nothing anymore. So how can I have a positive view of that?"

FOREIGNER's farewell tour kicked off on July 6 at Atlanta's Ameris Bank Amphitheatre,

For the first leg of the U.S. Live Nation-produced trek, FOREIGNER is being joined by LOVERBOY.

The only remaining original member of FOREIGNER, guitarist Mick Jones suffered from some health issues beginning in 2011, eventually resulting in heart surgery in 2012. Ever since, it is never announced whether he will be appearing with the band for specific shows — it just depends how he is feeling.

After singer Lou Gramm left FOREIGNER in 2003, Jones took some time off before regrouping a couple years later with an entirely new lineup, featuring Hansen and bassist Jeff Pilson, among others.

Gramm was the voice on FOREIGNER's biggest hits, including "Feels Like The First Time" and "Cold As Ice" from the band's eponymous debut in 1977, and later songs like "Hot Blooded" and "I Want To Know What Love Is".

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