The iconic band already has more than 3,000 licensed items and sales over $1 billion but the band and its new partner, Epic Rights, believe there’s lots more global expansion ahead.
Kiss has made a new multi-year agreement for merchandising, licensing, e-commerce and digital media with Epic Rights, a year-old company that does brand management, arranges licensing deals and handles a range of rights management.
While it is a new company, Epic Rights, based in West Hollywood, Calif., is led by Dell Furano, who has been working with Kiss for the past 25 years at several companies, most recently Live Nation.
"We go back a long way,” says Kiss frontman Paul Stanley, “and what we have built over time in terms of short speak and understanding what each can do and what we can do in collaboration is something that you don’t take lightly.”
There are already more than 3,000 Kiss-licensed products in the global marketplace. Furano estimates that the band's total retail sales exceeds $1 billion since 1977, excluding music or concert tickets. Live Nation will continue to sell some of those products and continues to work with Kiss as its concert promoter, but Epic will handle its licenses at concerts, retail and in digital media.
Even after many years, Furano and Stanley are convinced there is growth in the brand. “We will place a lot more focus on building the brand in a global way,” says Furano, “and in an organized manner by bringing forward new art work, new designs, new licensees and a much closer relationship between the licensees, Epic and the band members.”
Furano is currently in the process of licensing iconic images and photos of Kiss band members from the 1970s. “One of the challenges of music merchandising is how many different ways you can have The Beatles walking across Abbey Road. You have to bring in new images and photos and were going back and licensing the band as they were in the 1970s. Everyone likes their celebrities and stars while they’re young and they had attitude.”
So what does Kiss mean today? “What the band stands for is self-empowerment,” says Stanley, “belief in yourself, celebrating life and delivering the greatest show possible.”
This deal comes weeks before Kiss is inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Stanley releases his biography, the Kiss Arena Football team kicks off and the band embarks on its 40th anniversary world tour with Def Leppard. Furano says the publicity is propelling the band to heights it has not reached since the 1970s.
Kiss has licensed everything from condoms to coffins (“We get them coming and going,” quips Stanley), but even Kiss has limits. They will not license real or replica guns, as toys or for collectors; and do not endorse or license tobacco products. “We don’t do anything we find immoral or unhealthy,” says Stanley. The 61-year-old says the band “resonates with a lot of people multi-generationally who have grown up identifying with Kiss -- both the logo and the iconic imagery. So it’s not something with (limited) shelf life. Its something 40 years on that certainly can go on indefinitely.”
His legacy is very much on Stanley’s mind these days. In early April the book he swore for years he would never write, his autobiography, "Face the Music: A Life Expected," will be published.
“Autobiographies tend to be at best a distortion of reality and very often no more than a love letter to yourself,” says Stanley. “George Orwell said the autobiography is the most outrageous form of fiction and he wasn’t wrong.”
So why is Stanley writing a book? “What changed my mind was that my story is fairly interesting and inspiring,” he says. “I was born deaf on one side with a birth defect. I think people identify with my issues and find a commonality with their lives. Its refreshing to see people you idolize aren’t that different than you.”
Stanley also wants his four kids to read the book and understand what it took for him to succeed. “It’s not your typical fodder,” says Stanley. “Most of their entertainers books would be better suited for the soft tissue on a roll.”
“I was very happy when my 19-year-old son, my oldest, read it and said, ‘Dad, this book is you.’ That was my intention when I wrote it.”