Q&A: Justin Timberlake on the Future of Music

"People see dire straits – I see an entrepreneur's playground."

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Justin Timberlake at the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards at The Palms on September 9th, 2007 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
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What artist do you see impacting the future of music, aside from yourself?
Man. I hope I can do that. I look at a band like Radiohead, who just constantly says, "Fuck it." I thought Kanye's record was really well executed. There were a couple of verses on there that were pretty spectacular.

Did the Internet revolution help or hurt music?
It's the beginning of a new revolution in entertainment, period — not just music but film and television and communication. It's a snowball rolling down a hill. You can cither embrace it or fight it. You look at the labels, they're fighting it, fighting it, and they've fought it for so long. With iTunes, we now have a medium. And it's proven to work, too. The Internet helps with so much awareness, how can you not embrace it? If you look at something like "Dick in a Box" — we won an Emmy because of YouTube. We only got to show it on TV a couple of times because of the censorship, so it's not like the awareness came from television.

At the VMAs. you said MTV should play more videos. How important do you think is in the long run?
Well, I love everybody that works at MTV, and I've had a long-standing relationship with them. I didn't feel like I was scolding them. I was like, "You are called 'Music Television,' and you play the same thing that every other channel plays now." I stand by what I said, but I get it. I get reality television. Shit, I've watched those shows.

Generally speaking, are you optimistic or pessimistic about the future?
I'm optimistic about it. People look around and they see dire straits, but I see an entrepreneur's playground.

 This story is from the November 15th, 2007 issue of Rolling Stone.


From The Archives Issue 1039: November 15, 2007