Ray Romulus

GRAMMY® Award winner. Member of the Stereotypes. Music production and songwriting for Bruno Mars, Ne-Yo, Mary J. Blige and Justin Bieber. Former Def Jam Records music executive.

Athletes and entertainers face unique wealth management opportunities, considerations and challenges. The athletes and entertainers we interviewed shared their personal stories and perspectives to highlight the need for more financial education in the sports and entertainment world. We thank them for being strong advocates of financial literacy.

Ray’s advice

"Don't be so focused on your art that you don't know where your money is going." After a painful and costly experience, Ray stays financially engaged now. 

Marching to his own beat

Ray grew up in Queens, NY where he started playing the drums at age four. His father, Fritz, a worship leader at church, played the piano. “That’s what got me into music.” Ray trained under Donald Guillaume, the drummer for the hip-hop group the Fugees. “My goal was to be a drummer for amazing artists, until I realized I wanted to discover artists and create my own music label.”

While his parents encouraged Ray’s interest in music, they were also practical. “I was raised in a Haitian household. Saving money and owning your own home were instilled in me and my sister as important goals.” In 2002, Ray came across an internship opportunity at Bad Boy Entertainment, the media and entertainment company founded by Sean “Diddy” Combs.

Run toward opportunity

Ray took a calculated risk and dropped out of Hunter College, where he was studying communications, to intern full-time at Bad Boy. “I was working for Puff (Diddy) for free for a year and a half.” The music mogul happened to be preparing for the 2003 New York City Marathon. Ray volunteered to train with Diddy, eventually running the 26-mile marathon alongside his new boss. The connections he made at Bad Boy Entertainment launched the start of his music career.

If I didn’t understand money, I would be in a panic right now. I think ahead about how we can keep our quality of life, but a lot of creatives depend on things in the pipeline for their livelihood.

Musical chairs

A friend from Bad Boy Entertainment helped him land a job as the personal assistant to Jermaine Dupri, head of Black music at Arista Records. Ray was often invited to sit in on meetings with managers, producers and songwriters. The invaluable experience paid off when he was introduced to L.A. Reid, the president of Def Jam Records. Impressed by Ray’s knowledge and passion for music, L.A. offered him an A&R (Artists and Repertoire, the division responsible for discovering talent and overseeing artist development) position on the spot. At age 22, Ray became the youngest A&R executive in Def Jam’s history. In 2007, he was laid off after three years. “The music industry is like musical chairs. I was a casualty of that.”

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