Ray J Talks Raycon, New Ventures, And Sustainability In The Entertainment Industry
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
After all of your success through music and television, you decided to create your tech company, Raycon, in 2017. Being that you were already in the tech world when you released your first Scoot E-Bike back in 2015, talk about the progression of your business acumen in the world of technology.
When I started making Scoot E-Bikes, they were up next in the tech space. Everyone wanted to try them out because they weren’t really a thing in 2015. This was before they started getting more scooters on the streets, so people were excited. I got my friends to try them, including Snoop, Diddy, Justin Bieber, Cara Delevingne, etc. There was so much buzz around them, so I thought to myself, “If people think this tech is cool, what else could we make that would be more affordable and easily accessible?” What’s something people could use every day and bring with them everywhere? I started thinking about music tech, which is how I met my business partner, Ray Lee, who had a background in electronics and scaling brands. Together, we started making headphones, speakers, and earbuds. The earbuds are what really stuck. 2017 was around the time when wireless earbuds were coming out, but they were too expensive because big brands were selling them for a ridiculously high price. I wanted to share the joy of listening to music in incredible wireless earbuds, not just for the people who wanted to pay for bigger brands but also for those who try to save money. This is how we got Raycon.
Many of your peers, including Snoop Dogg, Ne-Yo, Cardi B, and even your sister Brandy, can be seen representing the Raycon brand. What steps do you take to ensure that each product is suited for the ideal customer?
I’m so thankful that I have great people in my life that support me. God is good. When they show love for my products, it means so much to me. We also have great athletes like JR Smith and Desean Jackson that support the brand as well. These are celebrities that people look up to and trust. When you got Snoop Dogg saying how great the earbuds are, people are thinking, “Snoop knows great music. If he likes Raycon, then these must be dope,” you know what I mean? I make sure to get feedback from all my friends who try them, and I make sure it’s honest and real feedback. They tell me what color earbuds we should come out with and whether they’re comfortable or have enough bass. They give it to me straight, so that’s how we usually come out with the first versions of a product. We get feedback from the best in the music, sports, and entertainment world and roll things out. When we launch each product, we make sure to always listen to all of our customers who get them. We continuously make improvements based on their input. Luckily, everyone I give my earbuds to loves them, and I’m extremely grateful.
Let’s get into Platinum Vision and how this concept was created.
When COVID-19 caused the shutdown, I felt disconnected from our Raycon audiences. As a CSO (Chief Strategy Officer), my job is to go out there, connect with customers, get my friends in the business to try the products, and attend events. But when the country shut down, all the “in-person” stuff became impossible to do. When the world started opening up again, I had some catching up to do, and I felt like a show would be the best way to do that. My crew and I went down to Miami because with L.A. being closed, people like Diddy and Rick Ross were already there. Once we started shooting content and having fun while promoting the Raycon brand, everything clicked. We started calling the videos Platinum Vision, and it came into existence. Platinum Vision serves as our way to raise brand awareness without having to wait around for the world to go back to normal after the pandemic. One of my life principles has always been that if you want something done, you must get moving and bring it into reality yourself.
In the early 2000s, Shaquille O’Neal wanted to make gym shoes affordable for working-class parents, inspiring him to create shoes under his namesake. In your inaugural Platinum Vision interview with Rick Ross, you mentioned that your Raycon earphones are only $79.99. How important was it for you to focus on not only quality products but affordable price points?
This is the key to Raycon’s success. Like I was saying before, our amazing and affordable quality products are what Raycon stands for. Some earbuds for a low price point could be considered not as good as the competition, but not at Raycon. We spend months crafting the perfect wireless earbuds that match the competition (not going to mention names, but you know what I mean?) Our earbuds are just as good, if not better than those expensive alternatives. We could raise our prices, but that goes against what we believe in as a brand. That’s why we got started in the first place; To create wireless audio tech that everyone can enjoy.
Again, earbuds shouldn’t just be enjoyed by people that can afford to spend hundreds of dollars on them. They should also be enjoyed by people who’re putting their money toward more important things in life while still wanting the opportunity to listen to great music for an affordable price. I don’t know about you, but music is what changes my whole mood and outlook on things. When things might not be going the right way, I pop in my Raycon earbuds and play awesome songs that turn my whole mood around. I know I’m not the only one!
You’ve been in the entertainment industry for over 25 years. What’s been the key to your sustained success in a business that’s known for its unforgiving nature?
Staying positive. Sometimes, life throws hard times at you where there’s drama or people aren’t on your side as much, but you must keep going and remember that more people support you than you think. I mind my business. I don’t have time to be worrying about what people think or what’s going to happen. I got a lot on my mind all the time with the music, Raycon, and other business ideas that I have going on. So, I put myself where there’s no time to focus on negativity. Instead, I work on growing. You have to remember to keep going because God is good, and if you put positive vibes out there, positive vibes will find you.
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