Quincy Jones On Investing, ‘Love, Trust & Respect’

Legendary music producer has his name on a streaming entertainment index; here’s why.

Reviewed by: Drew Voros
Edited by: Drew Voros

Quincy JonesQuincy Jones is one the most important figures the entertainment industry has ever had. In more than 60 years, Jones has worn the hats of legendary record producer (Michael Jackson), conductor and arranger (Frank Sinatra), composer and musician, among other roles, which has resulted in winning 26 Grammys, including a Grammy Legend Award in 1991. He has also served in other roles in the entertainment industry: film & TV producer as well as entertainment executive, mentor and philanthropist.

But there is a new path Jones is blazing today: index investing that targets streaming entertainment. The Quincy Jones Streaming Music, Media & Entertainment (QUINCY100) index offers exposure to long-term growth in streaming content and disruption in the industry. Jones will be speaking on “Creativity, Disruption & Investing” on Tuesday, Jan. 23, at Inside ETFs in Hollywood, Florida. ETF.com caught up with him and Donna Nairi, founder and CEO of ICONICBETA, who created the index with Jones, to discuss the index and the entertainment industry.

ETF.com: Tell us about the index bearing your name, the Quincy Jones Streaming Music, Media & Entertainment Index (QUINCY100). What’s the idea behind it?
Quincy Jones: When I was first approached with the idea of building a music, media and entertainment index, I immediately connected with it. Our index represents a theme that touches our lives every day, and a theme that’s offered me my entire career. If we can offer access to it, that’s exciting.

I’ve lived through it all, from audiocassettes to streaming. I know that world and all the transformative changes that’ve been made. I’ve witnessed (and been a part of) the evolution of this industry, and I’m telling you that it’s undoubtedly changing and transforming faster than I’ve ever seen in my entire life.

Technology used to be something that enabled piracy, but now, technology—specifically streaming—is the reason that piracy is on the decline. If you really think about it, the way in which people listen to music, watch movies and even discover new artists has completely transformed what we used to know.

Donna Nairi: It's a serious theme, so we decided to develop a strategy to track it. We approached development slightly different than traditional protocol by working together with industry icon Quincy Jones and his team. 

Mr. Jones has over 70 years’ experience and holds 35 honorary doctorate degrees from institutions such as Harvard and Princeton for his contributions to the industry, and this offered us unique insight that ultimately aided in the development of the index theme. 

The QUINCY100™ was engineered to reflect the long-term growth in streaming content and disruption in the content delivery ecosystem. We recognize the global music, media and entertainment industry is changing fast, and it’s “disrupt or dwindle” for traditional businesses. The subscription model is driving a lot of revenue growth in the entertainment space overall, with demand for content anywhere and anytime reshaping the industry.

The QUINCY100™ was published on Dec. 20, 2017. The Bloomberg ticker is "QUINCY.”

ETF.com: An index with a nonfinancial industry name on it is rare. Was it your idea to use your name?

Quincy Jones: It was Donna's idea; it's best she answers this one.

Donna Nairi: It’s never been done like this, but it has been done. If you think about the names of some of the most recognizable stock market benchmarks in the world, the Dow Jones Industrial Average, “The Dow,” for example, published in 1896, it was named after two people, reporters Charles Dow and Edward Jones. We're doing something quite similar with the QUINCY100™.

There is no formal nomenclature or procedure on index naming, with naming convention generally being derived from the index theme. The name “Quincy Jones” being included alongside descriptive language makes sense, since Quincy's name itself could be considered a symbol for the industry. When you look at Quincy’s career, he has been a leader in every part of it.

Identifying the right symbol for the benchmark was an important strategic decision, since the involvement extends beyond just a name. Mr. Jones' monumental achievements, coupled with a career spanning over 70 years, positions him as someone who’s identified with the industry in the broadest possible way, from playing to producing to being a business leader, from live events to TV and movies. “Quincy Jones” as a name is an iconic, respected and elegant mark that’s now the symbol and identifier of the industry benchmark. 

ETF.com: Your InsideETFs session is billed as “Creativity, Disruption & Investing.” Can you touch a little bit on that?
Quincy Jones: We're delighted to be speaking at the InsideETFs conference, especially on a panel titled "Creativity” and "Disruption." These two words piqued my interest. I've built a career in the music, media and entertainment business, so as you might expect, the finance industry isn't my area of expertise, although I have led entertainment industry businesses. However, I do strongly believe that there's a growing need to humanize and inject culture into the financial industry overall.

Donna Nairi: The "Disrupters" in Silicon Valley, "Creatives" in Hollywood and "Entrepreneurs" on Wall Street were the first to believe in our vision. I mention this because it's important when it comes to disruption.

I was previously a financial structurer at a big investment bank, where creativity is often stripped from your wings at the front door. It's that type of industry, but it doesn't have to be. I think big money managers and distributors should encourage and support new industry participants to ensure the industry evolves and avoids a stagnant mindset. 

ETF.com: When it comes to managing musical artists and producing music, is there a common philosophy you use with all projects, or is that constantly changing as rapidly as the music itself?
Quincy Jones: Successfully working with artists boils down to three things: love, trust and respect. That will never change.

ETF.com: What’s the most difficult part of your job as a music producer?

Quincy Jones: One thing I learned early on as a conductor and big band leader was that you’re only as strong as your weakest link. In other words, one bad musician can make a whole band sound bad.

That lesson translated into various areas of my career. If the song choice, tempo, musicians or arrangement is wrong, it's "the producer's fault." But if the album is a smash success, the artist gets the lion's share of the credit. That can feel unfair.

A producer has to have the skill, experience and ability to guide the vision of a project to completion; to take charge of virtually every phase of the creative process. He/she is the conductor of everything from the bottom to the top.

ETF.com: How do you stay up on the new music and new artists that have yet to become mainstream? Do you scout for talent yourself?
Quincy Jones: Most of the new artists I work with come to me, but on occasion, a professional in the industry will refer someone to me.

A few years ago, Andy Davis (the director of “The Fugitive”) forwarded me and my president, Adam Fell, a video by a young artist named Jacob Collier, who had never released music. In fact, a few people had sent us the video on that day, but because Andy is someone I trust, we checked out Jacob and ended up signing him to our management company. Last year, Jacob won his first two Grammys.

ETF.com: Has it become more difficult or easier for new artists to break through? 
Quincy Jones: Throughout my career, the best musicians have always risen to the top. Technology has definitely helped facilitate that process. In our team meetings every week, we watch a lot of YouTube videos and listen to new music on Spotify.

ETF.com: When it comes to your own personal finance and investing, is there anything you would’ve done differently, or regret?
Quincy Jones: I would’ve purchased more music publishing early on in my career. Music publishing is like real estate—it's amazing how much my music publishing has appreciated over the years.

Drew Voros can be reached at [email protected]

Drew Voros has nearly 30 years' experience in financial journalism. He was a longtime business editor for the Oakland Tribune and sister papers of the Bay Area News Group, and finance writer for the Hollywood trade publication Variety. Voros' past roles have also included editor-in-chief at etf.com and ETF Report.