’There’s No Money in Songwriting Anymore’: Rock Drum Legend Speaks Up on How ’Streaming Destroyed the Music Business’

Recently, drummer Carmine Appice appeared on the Music Biz Weekly Podcast to discuss his work and career. During the chat, Appice — who’s well-known for his work with Rod Stewart, Blue Murder, Vanilla Fudge, Cactus, and many others — reflected on how streaming impacted musicians and the music industry. In particular, he explained the reason why he decided to sell the rights to some of the songs that he wrote. Carmine said (transcript via Blabbermouth):

“There’s no money in songwriting anymore. There’s no money in selling records. I’ve got all these gold records on the wall; nobody gets those anymore. And that’s how you make money.”

“The only way to make any money today is if you get a song on Netflix or you get a song in a movie. That’s the only way to get money. ‘Cause the streaming business is ridiculously useless.”

As Carmine further explained, there’s no real money to be made as an individual musician from the royalties. He continued:

“The reason why I sold my songs was because there’s no more royalties; they’re very little. Because everything went to streaming, and streaming destroyed the music business, as far as I’m concerned.”

Vanilla Fudge "Keep Me Hangin' On" on The Ed Sullivan Show

And, what’s more, Carmine’s so mad at the whole thing that he won’t even accept to use Spotify or any other streaming services. He said:

“I won’t even listen to Spotify or any of those things; I won’t listen to ’em ’cause they’re ripping the musicians off so bad. When you talk about young musicians, they have no chance — unless they somehow know how to get all these hits on YouTube. I don’t know how to do that.”

The discussion also went into the direction of musicians who are just starting out today. As Carmine explains, he wouldn’t know what to do if he was thinking of becoming a professional musician as a young man today. He said:

“I don’t know how these bands come out and they get two million views on YouTube, or they get four hundred thousand people on Facebook and Instagram. I don’t really know that stuff; I don’t have a clue how to do that.”

Vanilla Fudge - You Keep Me Hangin' On (1967)

“So they probably know how to do that better than me. But still, when they do that, the only money [that] could be made from that is going out on tour and playing gigs and [selling] merchandise.

“Even if you don’t have a bigger name, you open up for somebody, you do merchandise and you make some money. And you get big, and it’s all about touring and merchandise.”

“You get crappy money from Spotify. And the labels, they don’t sell CDs anymore. They might sell a little vinyl, but there’s no money in it.”

Carmine Appice: Linear Drum Beats - Drum Lesson (Drumeo)

Nonetheless, despite everything, Carmine Appice still plays with passion and seems like he’s nowhere near stopping. And in case you didn’t know, he’s currently 76 years old but this doesn’t stop him from playing hard rock and classic heavy metal. In a recent chat with Eddie Trunk, Carmine was asked whether he can still hit as hard as he used to, to which he replied:

“I still hit hard. But my singles are slower than they used to be, so I make it up with different combinations that I do. If you listen to the King Kobra record that’s coming out and the other record, the instrumental record, you’ll hear a lot of energy.

“And Cactus. I did ‘Parchman Farm’ at 243 beats per minute, which is pretty fast. And I play it live, and there’s no problem doing that stuff.

Cactus "Parchman Farm" (Official Video)

“I go to the doctor’s to get checked out. My doctor said, ‘Your heart’s really strong.’ I try and work out and eat good. And so far so good. I’m 76 years old, man. I never thought I’d be still rocking at 76 years old.

To those who may not know, Carmine has a famous brother Vinny Appice who’s also a drummer. Vinny played for a variety of big names as well, including Black Sabbath, Ronnie James Dio, and the revamped version of Dio-era Sabbath called Heaven & Hell. Recalling one instance when his brother Vinny came up on stage, Carmine said:

“Last year we did a show, and after my drum solo, which went really well, Vinny [Appice] came out — my brother; we did a show together — Vinny comes out and says, ‘What about my brother? 75 years old, playing a drum solo like that?’ And everybody started cheering. So I felt good.

Vinny & Carmine Appice

Optimistic about what the future holds for him, Carmine concluded by saying:

“Look, I’m gonna play until I can’t play anymore. That’s why this year I’m gonna play with King Kobra and I’m gonna play with my instrumental band. I’m gonna play with Cactus. I’m ever gonna do a ‘Rod Stewart Experience’ show, and Vanilla Fudge, and all of it.”

Carmine Appice played is the classic drummer for Vanilla Fudge, a band that started their work back in 1967 and that’s widely considered as one of the proto-metal bands. The band broke up in the early 1970s but came back together a few times over the years.

Beck, Bogert, & Appice - Morning dew - Santa Monica May '73 stereo

In 1999, they got back together once again and they’re still active to this day. The group’s original bassist and vocalist Tim Bogert left the band in 2010 and has eventually passed away in January 2021.

Among other bands, Carmine also played in a supergroup power trio called Beck, Bogert & Appice. Apart from him, the band featured his Vanilla Fudge bandmate Tim Bogert and none other than Jeff Beck on guitar. The band worked for a few years in the 1970s and had one self-titled album, released in 1973.

Photo: TParadise (Carmine Appice in 2015)

David Slavkovic

David always planned for music to be nothing more than a hobby. However, after a short career as an agricultural engineer he ended up news editor at KillerGuitarRigs, senior editor at Ultimate-Guitar.com, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor.

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