There’s no doubt KISS encapsulates everything about a successful band. It doesn’t matter which generation bore you nor what musical genre you prefer — there’s an overwhelming likelihood that you’re familiar with KISS. Store speakers, the radio, classic rock playlists, and more continue to broadcast their music as they’ve done for decades.
Basically, you’d have to make a deliberate effort to avoid them. Their work is everywhere. And this brings us to the most important question — how much money has KISS made?
Currently, the combined net worth of Kiss’s members equals about $650 million. Most of this wealth is held by co-founders Gene Simmons (worth $400 million) and Paul Stanley (worth $200 million). However, the band’s total revenue since their debut album in 1974 is likely around $1 billion.
Bear in mind, though, that answering this question is a bit trickier than it first seems. For example, Gene Simmons has earned a lot of money through outside ventures. Separating Kiss’s band revenue from the net worth of its members takes a deeper look, which is what we’ll be providing in this article.
Keep reading for the details! Even today you can use their successful strategies to build your music fan base.
How Much Money Did KISS Earn in the 1970s?
Kiss has come a long way since they started in 1973. Their revenues have only grown since then.
Nevertheless, the 1970s were a period of marked growth for them and the foundation of their legacy. In the beginning, “kiss” was just a word describing an act of romance. By 1980, rock fans could no longer think of kissing one another without imagining Gene Simmons’ tongue coming in hot.
Needless to say, Kiss had earned a great deal of revenue throughout the 1970s of which most other musicians could only dream. But they didn’t get here immediately.
The band earned a modest $75 per week at the time of their first album. Even today that works out to only $525, which isn’t all that much when split among four members.
Five years later, though, it’s hard to feel sorry for Kiss.
A 1977 San Diego show provides a snapshot into what Kiss would make for one show. It lists their gross profit at $173,267 (which is $891,965 in 2023). Furthermore, the deal ensured the band would receive at least $40,000 (or $205,000 in 2023) – more than a 20X increase over what they’d earn per show in 1974.
The video below goes into great detail about what Kiss made in the most important decade of their career:
How Much Money Did KISS Earn in the 1980s?
By 1980, Kiss’s seventh birthday, the band had already amassed considerable wealth. Again, the dollar amount isn’t clear but likely exceeded $1 million based on what we know about their 1977 San Diego show.
Kiss continued to be a top rock band well into the 1980s. However, one could argue that they hit their peak in the late 1970s as Kiss “dialed it back” a bit in the 1980s.
For example, 1983 is known among Kiss fans as the “Unmasking”. This is the year that all members showed up on stage without their iconic makeup. Fans could finally see the people behind the music as humans instead of as space zombies from a low-budget science fiction film.
However, the beginning of the 80s weren’t the easiest. Two members, Ace Frehley and Peter Criss, broke it off with the band.
Drummer Peter Criss left in 1980 after growing tired of being in a hard rock band. “I wanted to do my own thing,” he stated in an interview. His thing, as it turns out, would be a softer kind of songwriting.
Ace Frehley (not Gene Simmons, surprisingly) was the top dog in the band throughout the 1970s. His voice and his guitar riffs helped define Kiss’s style. But in 1982 he began his 14-year hiatus to pursue a solo career and do drugs, as is the rock star way.
Losing half their lineup put Kiss in a difficult position. They’d need to redefine themselves. That’s exactly what they did when they dropped the makeup in 1983.
While Kiss continued to earn thousands per show, the growth that they had in the 1970s wasn’t there. They had plateaued. Granted, this was a very high plateau that kept Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley adding more to their multi-million dollar fortunes.
In 1989, though, Paul Stanley left the band. Gene Simmons was the only one left and Kiss’s future earnings looked bleak.
How Much Money Did KISS Earn in the 1990s?
With the rise of grunge, glam metal bands like Kiss began to seem increasingly outdated. Even if the music style remained as popular as always, Kiss had fallen apart. These bitter truths combined to make the 1990s the most challenging decade of Kiss’s career.
Understandably, their earnings slowed drastically. While longtime Kiss fans continued to buy concert tickets, 3/4 of the original lineup was gone. Kiss fans of the 70s would only be able to recognize Gene Simmons among the three “replacement” members.
Thus, not only was captivating new fans a tough task, nostalgia’s effect weakened with the shrinking of the original lineup.
Again, though, the fall from fame was made less brutal by just how long Kiss would need to fall to hit the bottom. In 1992, Kiss an album called Revenge which was well-received and demonstrated Kiss’s adaptability. In 1993, Kiss joined Hollywood’s RockWalk.
Finally, Kiss’s 1996 reunion brought their original lineup back on stage — and their income rising rapidly once again. It ended up being the top-grossing tour of the year.
How Much Money Has KISS Earned Since 2000?
The past twenty three years have been interesting for KISS. In this period, Kiss is no longer a trendy rock band shaking up the music business. Instead, 21st century Kiss is an established legend that defines what people envision when someone mentions “classic rock”.
Furthermore, bassist and co-lead singer Gene Simmons has pursued other “hobbies” during the past couple of decades that have further boosted his fame (and wealth) outside of the music industry. Examples include his role in the TV show Family Jewels and his recent foray into cryptocurrency.
KISS’s Net Worth Today
Ultimately, while we can only postulate what Kiss earned in their early years, we have a more concrete number of what Kiss is worth today. The best sources available to the public put that number around $650 million.
This number includes the enormous assets of the band’s top members. Gene Simmons, being the only continuous member for Kiss, owns the majority of this wealth. Concert tickets, radio royalties, and merchandise sales have been the top earners.
Total earnings, however, likely dwarf the $650 million net worth estimate. Reasonable speculation puts the total lifelong revenue of the KISS franchise at over $1 billion. Granted, much of this money has been spent throughout Kiss’s career on personal purchases such as sports cars and Beverly Hills real estate.
No drugs, though. Gene Simmons frowns upon such unprofessionalism.
Why is KISS so Successful?
Part of the reason Kiss is worth so much, even compared to other mega-successful bands of their time, is due to how it was run. Gene Simmons was more than Kiss’s bassist throughout the years. He was also the financial guru.
Again, Mr. Simmons was the only member who never left the band. If he decided to call it quits after Paul Stanley left the band in 1989, Kiss would not have lasted. The reunion tour would not have lifted the band up from incoming demise.
Gene Simmons recognized what many rock stars of his time did not — that running a band is running a business. Financial planning and a drug-free and modest life (by mega-rich musician standards) are key reasons the band is worth over half a billion today.
New bands and solo artists can learn much from Kiss. Even if you don’t care for their music, you cannot deny they’ve done amazing things as a brand. They’ve managed break-ups. They’ve (more or less) resisted the strong temptation of drugs. They’ve managed to stay relevant, even as their style of music was on its last legs.
Kiss provides an excellent lesson.
KISS started off in the early 1970s making $75 a week. By 1977, they grossed close to the modern equivalent of $1 million per show. This is with Paul Stanley, the main guitarist and vocalist, having to teach himself guitar along the way.
But it was not smooth sailing for the band. The 1980s saw every original member leave the band, leaving only Gene Simmons. Then, by 1990, Kiss had to rebuild itself while struggling to stay relevant in a period defined by grunge and hip-hop. Many had speculated that the band was nearly dead.
Nevertheless, Kiss made a fearsome comeback in 1996. Strategic music marketing and adaptation enabled them to grow their legacy further and remain a classic rock staple.
The band is now worth nearly $700 million and that colossal figure continues to rise. Again, you don’t need to be a fan of Kiss to admit that’s impressive.