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Future of Music: John Legend

November 15, 2007 8:22 PM ET

How has technology changed the way people experience music?
I just did the launch of the Starbucks iTunes store in New York, and that's pretty interesting. You hear about the music and you have the instant gratification of being able to download it right there with your iPhone or your wireless iPod as soon as you hear it. It might actually grow the music business, because the more opportunities people get to discover and instantly buy music, the better.

It's also easier for people to get music without paying for it. Do you worry about that?
It's actually easier to pay for stuff these days, because it's not that expensive. Things have really gotten to a bad point if people are so opposed to getting something for ninety-nine cents versus for free.

Are you optimistic about the future of the music business?
I don't really care that much about the overall business. What I care about is, "Am I creating something great for the fans, something that they want to pay for?" Fans might not buy as many albums as they used to, but as long as you make something special, they're going to keep coming back to you. There are ways to succeed outside of just selling actual units. There's touring and merchandise and corporate partnerships and all kinds of other ways to make money. I think I'll be fine, as long as I'm making music people want to buy.

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Song Stories

“Nightshift”

The Commodores | 1984

The year after soul legends Marvin Gaye and Jackie Wilson died, songwriter Dennis Lambert asked members of the Commodores to give him a tape of ideas. "And the one from Walter Orange has this wonderful bass line," said co-writer Franne Golde. "Plus the lyric, 'Marvin, he was a friend of mine' ... Within 10 minutes, we had decided it should be something like a modern R&B version of 'Rock 'n' Roll Heaven,' and I just said, 'Nightshift.'" This tribute to the recently deceased musicians was the band's only hit without Lionel Richie, who had left for a solo career.

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