Legendary record producer/composer Quincy Jones was recently awarded $9.4 million in royalties from the estate of the late Michael Jackson, thanks to a Los Angeles Superior Court civil case over an alleged breach of contract stemming from agreements dating back to the ’70s and ’80s.
Apart from working with Jackson on the 1978 musical, The Wiz, Jones oversaw the production of the beloved “King of Pop’s” three most acclaimed albums: Off The Wall (1979), Thriller (1982) and Bad (1987).
Jones filed a $30 million lawsuit against the record label, SONY Music Entertainment, and Jackson’s estate in 2013, claiming that the master recordings of the albums were improperly remixed to deprive him of royalties and production fees, which he had been entitled to under contracts that he and Jackson signed in 1978 and 1985.
“This lawsuit was never about Michael,” Jones told The New York Times. “It was about protecting the integrity of the work we all did in the recording studio and the legacy of what we created.”
Jackson’s estate said that an accounting error would cause the producer to miss out on some of the funds he was owed, but estimated the figure at $392,000—a far cry from the $30 million Jones had been seeking.
According to The LA Times, Jones also declined an approximately $3 million settlement deal with the estate.
Howard Weitzman, one of the attorney’s representing the Jackson estate, said that while Jones lauded the two-week-long trial as a victory for “artists’ rights overall,” he still feels that giving Jones millions of dollars in court was “wrong.”
“Any amount above and beyond what is called for in his contracts is too much and unfair to Michael’s heirs,” Weitzman said in a joint statement. “Although Mr. Jones is portraying this as a victory for artists’ rights, the real artist is Michael Jackson and it is his money Mr. Jones is seeking.”
Jones was also upset over the posthumous Michael Jackson documentary, This Is It, which did not include any credits or mention of the producer.
According to Billboard, jurors had to closely examine the contracts, which indicate that the producer has the right of first refusal to remix any of the work he produced with Jackson. However, the estate maintains that Jones’ right was limited to remixes ordered by SONY at the time the albums were being produced.
“Even though [Jones] was awarded $20 million less than what he asked for, it’s still a large amount of money and it’s kind of unfortunate,” Weitzman told Billboard. “This jury was put into the position of interpreting and kind of rewriting the agreements, which is very unusual and normally they are not given that kind of responsibility.”