Kelly Clarkson Speaks On The Downside Of The Digital Revolution In Playback

Kelly on music, motherhood, and how she’s stayed relevant in changing times.

Kelly Clarkson’s recent album Piece By Piece is the latest step on a public journey that dates back to 2002. While 13 years might not seem long, the music industry has gone through a staggering transformation in that time. Think of it— Clarkson ascended the pop throne in an age when CDs were the only game in town, YouTube didn’t exist, and the closest thing to social media was putting song lyrics in your AIM profile. Her over-quoted status as “The Original American Idol” reminds us that she arrived on the scene before the airwaves boasted a perpetual bumper crop of musical competitions.

Her career perfectly straddles the last gasp of ’90s mega-sales and the digital revolution, and yet she’s remained vibrant musical force throughout. In our new episode of Playback, Clarkson speaks about how she achieved her artistic goals on her own terms, and what has been gained —and lost— as a result of the changing way we enjoy music.

Digital platforms like Spotify and YouTube make music more accessible than ever, but Clarkson argues that songwriters aren’t getting fairly compensated for the number of times these songs are heard online. The result is an industry-wide creative drain born out of financial necessity. “They’re not getting paid, so we’re losing these writers and they’re becoming accountants.”

While she’s quick to point out the positives of social media and internet culture, these round-the-clock updates have killed a sense of showbiz mystique. “I don’t know if we’re ever going to have that mystery again. Twitter’s awesome! All of the social media is awesome, [because] you get that straight connection with your fans. But the beautiful part of the smoke and mirrors is gone and will never exist again.”

Watch the full interview for more on music, motherhood, and how she’s stayed relevant in changing times. And stay tuned for more Playback, where some of pop’s biggest hit-makers reflect on their musical evolution and offer insights into their creative process.

VH1 Music Editor + Seltzer Enthusiast