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Quincy Jones: One of Ones

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Dan Runcie

April 19, 2014: Record Producer Quincy Jones attends the premiere of 'Keep On Keepin' On' during the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival at BMCC Tribeca PAC, Manhattan - Via Shutterstock

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This week, we’re kicking off a new series called One of Ones, where we break down legendary moguls in music and entertainment. I’ll be doing these breakdowns with my guy Zack O’Malley Greenburg. Our first One of One is on the Quincy Jones.

You can listen to our breakdown on Trapital here, read Zack’s story on him here, or read below for a few highlights from our episode.


the power of soft influence

Soft influence is one of the most valuable leadership skills. It’s about building trust and getting people to follow you without formal authority. It’s pulling things off that others with more formal influence may still struggle to do.

Quincy Jones has it.

He helped elevate Michael Jackson’s career to new heights. He elevated Will Smith’s career to new heights. He conducted and produced the 1985 songWe Are the World,for a humanitarian effort for famine relief in Africa. Who else could have handled all of those divas in one room?

In our episode, we referred to Quincy’s edge aslead singer energyormain character energywithout needing to be the lead. It’s a unique role. For the last few decades, it became the norm for producers and traditional behind-the-scenes executives to be all in the video. But Quincy was able to create that energy without the forced screen presence.

That’s still true for Quincy today, a man in his 90s, who is still active in music and entertainment. It was just a few years ago that he invested in OneOf, an NFT platform that raised a $63 seed round in 2021. Sure, a $63 million seed round for an NFT platform is as strong of a zero-interest rate phenomenon as it gets, but it’s still great to see Quincy make moves later in his life.

You can listen to the rest of the episode here or read more highlights below.

Quincy and MJ

Michael Jackson had the luxury of working with both Berry Gordy and Quincy Jones. They are two of the most influential figures in music and two leaders whose styles couldn’t be more different.

Here’s a quote from our episode:

“Berry Gordy was an engineer through and through. He used the Ford model T line approach. He worked on a car plant himself and adapted that same mentality. A lot of the 20th century growth and progress came because businesses across industries adopted the Henry Ford model and became more efficient.”

The benefit of Gordy’s approach is that you can create a factory like Hitsville USA. Every artist in that building would record a version of the same song, Gordy would pick the best one, and if it was a hit, Motown would release one of the other versions on another in-house record label.

The brilliance of Berry Gordy’s Six Sigma mentality is efficiency. The drawbacks, however, are the restrictions it places on a once-in-a-generation talent, especially if that talent believes it’s underpaid!)

Or, as Quincy Jones put it more simply when he first met Michael, the child star was singing about a rat.

Meanwhile, Quincy may not have been the titan of industry like Gordy, but he had another critical skill—the ability to go all-in when you hit the jackpot.

Albums like Off The Wall and Thriller weren’t cheap to create. They would never have been made in the low-cost Motown model. But since MJ had moved onto Epic Records and worked with Quincy, the sky was the limit. To release the best-selling album of all time, a title Thriller holds to this day, you have to spend some money to make it work.

Unfortunately, egos got in the way of Quincy and MJ’s relationship. Even if Quincy wasn’tall in the video,there’s not enough room for both people to have main character energy. Bad was the last album they worked on together. But it was great to see them each continue to be successful despite their split.

Listen to the rest of the episode for more on:

– Quincy’s role in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
– VIBE Magazine
– Two truths and a lie with outrageous Quincy Jones’ quotes

Chartmetric Stat of the Week

The Michael Jackson catalog is often believed to be one of the most valuable of all time. A lot of that comes from the three albums that Jackson worked on with Quincy Jones, Off The Wall, Thriller, and Bad. Those albums include some of the most popular songs of all time that still get plenty of radio play and streams today. Michael’s music is currently on over 1.02 million Spotify playlists that are tracked by Chartmetric.

Dan Runcie

Dan Runcie

Founder of Trapital

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