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Skidmore College

Grammy Award-winning alum: Get motivated by obstacles

March 29, 2019
by Angela Valden

Scott Jacoby ’93 took an unexpected path to realizing his dream in the music industry.

His love of music began as a child and flourished in the form of a hobby. But he worried that pursuing the thing he loved most as a profession might take away the joy he associated with it.

“Never did I want to go into music as a career,” the producer, songwriter, composer, sound engineer and recording artist told students gathered March 26 in Davis Auditorium. Jacoby is the founder and president of independent record label Eusonia Records and won a Grammy Award in 2006 for his engineering work on comedian Lewis Black’s “The Carnegie Hall Performance.” He has worked with such famous artists as John Legend, Coldplay, Janelle Monae, Sia and Kelly Clarkson.

While attending Skidmore, Jacoby studied psychology. He traveled to Kenya and Tanzania through the College’s study abroad program and became inspired. He applied for a Fulbright grant, but the research he wished to pursue required a background in medicine. 

He went to medical school for a year, “kind of liked it,” but was still writing songs. He became less sure about the path he was on and more sure about music. “Maybe there’s a chance I could do this as a career,” Jacoby recalled thinking.

At age 27, he left medical school. It was a huge risk, but it was one he finally knew he was willing to fight for.

In sharing his story, Jacoby aimed to leave students with one key piece of advice: Get motivated by the obstacles you’ve encountered in your life. The “extra force out of that defiance” is what makes all the difference.

You have to make a move to know what your next move is. Every time you take a step, an answer will reveal itself.”
Scott Jacoby '93

He also set out to dispel some misconceptions about the music industry — lessons he didn’t learn until he was fully immersed in it.

“The business of music is gigantic. There are careers for you in music,” he said, listing off seldom-thought-of roles such as publisher, manager, lawyer and economist. “There are tons of careers if you want to be a part of the infrastructure.”

Jacoby said he enjoys working with Skidmore students through internships because he truly enjoyed his time at the College, and he appreciates the interdisciplinary environment it fosters.

“Do what you do better than anyone else on the planet and lead with that,” he said.

Scott Jacoby lecture

Grammy Award-winning alum Scott Jacoby answered students' questions about the music industry on March 26 in Davis Auditorium.

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