You've spent the majority of your career on a major label and now you're taking the independent route. What's your take on today's music industry?
Several major labels talked to me about "Time Flies" while I was recording it. But my first thought before they talked to me was that I wanted to do it myself. It's different nowadays because major labels are middlemen. It's going to be hard for major labels to survive given the way music is being downloaded and sold now, especially because major labels have many people to support. I'm not just talking about artists. When I went to meetings at these labels, I'd count 40 people before I got to the boardroom. I decided I've got just as good a chance of doing it myself as going the major-label route.
This is a 180-degree turn from where I started. It's a whole other ballgame; there are so many things involved now in getting a record out to the public. It's been a real education for me, I can tell you that [laughs]. However, I do like being on my own. Creatively, I'm freer than I've ever been.
If you could, what one thing would you change about the industry?
I would change the fact that people are able to get your music whenever they want to, free of charge. After you've labored over it and took the time to create it, that's unfair.
Whose songwriting skills do you admire among the newer artists?
There are so many talented young people out there making great music: Alicia Keys, Mariah Carey, Justin Timberlake, Beyoncé, Maxwell and John Legend. It kills me when I hear people say music is not going anywhere nowadays. I'm sure there were some people saying the same thing when we started Motown: "What is this stuff? What are they doing?" Sure, there's some negative music out there. But there's no need to focus on that and say it's all negative.
Is there anything you'd change about your career?
I'm sure there are some things I would do differently. However, I'd leave the majority of things just as they are, including the hardships. That just builds your character. Time is the greatest educator that we have. It gives you a great outlook on life and teaches you--if you're looking. In my case, I just hope I've made a positive imprint and that I will continue to do so.