Quincy Jones Earned $18 Million in Royalties Since Michael Jackson's Death

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Michael Jackson and Quincy Jones photographed at the 1994 Grammy awards. 

On Day 6 of trial over missing royalties, Sony exec's testimony reveals producer's payout

Since the death of pop star Michael Jackson in 2009, Quincy Jones has received nearly $18 million in royalties for his work on some of the King of Pop’s most iconic music, according to court testimony given by a high-ranking music executive on the sixth day of the trial between Jones and the Jackson estate. 

Though the 84-year-old Jones, who is likely to take the stand on Thursday, claims that the Jackson estate owes him at least $30 million due to a breached contract for his work on albums Bad, Thriller, Off the Wall and This Is It, Sony's vp of royalty audits David Moro took the stand Tuesday (July 18) and spoke at length about the substantial royalties that Jones has already received from the label through the years, emphasizing payments issued since Jackson’s death 8 years ago.

Jones sued the estate and Sony Music in 2003, claiming that songs such as “Billie Jean,” “Thriller” and “Don’t Stop ’Til You Get Enough” were remixed to block him from royalties and a producer’s fee. 

The legendary producer, who has been nominated 79 times for a Grammy, alleges that his contracts gave him the first option to re-edit or alter the songs, and that not having had that opportunity has hurt his reputation.

After the Jackson estate's legal team called Moro to the stand, attorney Tami Sims led Moro through series of back-to-back questions that established how much Jones has received, from smaller amounts in the range of $30,000 to much larger sums in the millions.

Moro explained that Jones was chiefly paid record royalties, not funds through a license agreement. The executive also explained that a “joint venture” agreement precluded Jones from receiving other monies.

“Mr. Jones is not a party to those agreements,” Moro said during his testimony. “Mr. Jones has never been paid under those agreements.” 

When asked if Jones has previously requested audits, Moro confirmed that there had been “about 6” audits from 1981 through 1989. Additionally, there was a settlement totaling between $200,000 and $300,000 in recent years. 

The jury was shown royalty summaries pertaining to Jones with one line item illustrating that Jones received nearly $18 million between 2009 and 2016.

More witnesses are expected to take the stand in Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael L. Stern’s courtroom including Jones, who this week returned from work duties in Europe.