LOS ANGELES — Legendary music producer and composer Quincy Jones has taken to the Web to advance the cause of music education. He's an investor and co-creator of the Playground Sessions website, which just exited its beta test period. Playground aims to be the "Rosetta Stone" of music education, as the 27-time Grammy Award winner, who will be celebrating his 80th birthday in March, told us in a recent visit to his home here.
It costs $9.99 a month for online access to lessons on music theory and video instructions for playing popular songs such as Beyonce's Halo, and One Republic's Apologize on the keyboard. Jones is involved behind the scenes. The website features interactive tutorials from YouTube sensation David Sides, and will expand to other instruments in 2013. "Music, food and the languages hold the culture together. Playground is the personification of how to get emotionally and technically involved. It will hypnotize you and pull you in. You will understand what it (music) looks like on paper, how it feels and how to approach it."
Using software to compose music
Jones, a longtime music composer and arranger, dislikes using popular software such as Avid's Pro Tools for writing music on the computer. "If you don't understand music, you work for the machine."
Most innovative technology for music: the Fender bass
Jones was an early adopter of the synthesizer and drum machines, but his choice for biggest innovation goes way back. "We had the first Fender bass in 1952. Without that bass getting together with electric guitar... there would be no rock and roll or Motown. That's for sure. An electric rhythm section."
Most used current app
Jones listens to music in his screening room here, which is adorned with movie posters of all the films he scored, including In Cold Blood, The Color Purple and In the Heat of the Night. He likes to check out new stuff on the Spotify music subscription service, which offers 20 million songs. "Full access is what's good about it. I like all the apps and the approach — towards the future."
Music legend Quincy Jones enjoys the online music app Spotify.
Who he listens to on Spotify
Bruno Mars, Drake and Ludacris are three of his favorites.
Biggest problem: E-mail
"I live on the Internet." But the volume of e-mail is so great, "I don't keep up with all of it. A lot of it I just let float on by."
How the original Napster could have saved the record industry
Shawn Fanning, a friend of Jones, came up with the original Napster in his dorm room in 1998, figuring out a way to offer a database of the world's music for free. "If the record guys had listened to him, and tried to figure out a future together, we wouldn't be in this dilemma we're in now — 98% piracy everywhere on the planet. It's almost like we don't have a record business at all." He thinks it can be saved, but he's not sure how. "It can be three or four times bigger than before, if we figure it out."
Music legend Quincy Jones talks about all the movie posters in his home screening room, in this bonus from his Talking Your Tech interview.