Antonio “L.A.” Reid is one of the most successful music executives working today. Since 1989, he has made an artform out of mining talent, signing them, and providing the necessary tools to create chart-topping hits. This is something that’s been done with artists like Mariah Carey, Usher, Boyz II Men, Kanye West, Rihanna, and Rick Ross among countless others.
That being said, Reid has just announced that he will be stepping down as the CEO of Epic Records— a position he’s held since 2011. Learn about Reid’s career, his tenure with Epic Records (a division of Sony Music Entertainment), and where he’ll go next.
1. He Became the CEO of Epic Records In 2011
Reid was hired on as the CEO of the Sony-owned Epic Records in 2011. According to Billboard, he took the chairman title previously held by musician Amanda Ghost, whose controversial stint nearly ruined the company. Reid’s arrival brought Epic staffers a new sense of excitement, as one high-ranking insider revealed: “L.A. is one of the only people inside that company that has his finger on the hip-hop scene, and if you look at the Billboard Top 20, that’s what it’s all about. He’s a good A&R guy and he’ll do a good job.”
In addition to reuniting with artists that he previously discovered– namely, Pink and Usher, Reid’s tenure has resulted in hugely successful breakout artists like Future, Meghan Trainor, Travis Scott, DJ Khaled and many more.
2. He Discovered Fifth Harmony While Hosting ‘The X-Factor’
During the first leg of his Epic Records tenure, Reid was also a host on the popular UK series The X-Factor. Playing opposite Simon Cowell and Cheryl Cole, Reid saw massive exposure while on the show, but he later admitted that it hampered his duties as CEO. Once The X-Factor was over, Reid was able to focus all of his attention on his label, and the shift led to countless number one albums and singles from artists like Trainer and Future.
Still, the most important takeaway of Reid’s time on The X-Factor was the discovery of the girl group Fifth Harmony, whom he would subsequently sign to Epic and see massive success. In a 2016 interview with Billboard, Reid said “The only thing that matters to me is that they do their best, and put their best musical foot forward. They’re already a global phenomenon.” Fifth Harmony is still signed to Epic Records, as is Camila Cabello, who announced that she was going solo last year.
3. He’s The Founder of LeFace Records
Sony’s desire to hire Reid was not a surprise to many people given his impressive track record. Originally a drummer for the R&B group The Deele, Reid and Babyface co-founded LeFace Records through a joint venture with Arista Records in 1989. It wasn’t long before LeFace became the premiere destination for African-American artists, as the 90s saw the worldwide success of Usher, TLC, Toni Braxton, OutKast, and Babyface himself.
Braxton and OutKast would go on to sell more than 65 million records each during their time at LeFace, making them two of the most successful musical acts of all time. Upon leaving LeFace for Island Def Jam in 2004, Reid continued his track record by mentoring and helping shape the global stardom of artist like Kanye West, Rihanna, and Justin Bieber.
4. He Wrote An Autobiography In 2016
With such a spectacular resume, it was only a matter of time before Reid released a memoir of his life. And sure enough, he did just that in 2016 with the book Sing to Me. Aside from the advice and wisdom of a man who over three decades in the business, Reid also finds time to dish on the behind-the-scenes happenings of the celebrities he dealt with regularly. According to the book, he was integral in getting Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown together, he never had affairs with Toni Braxton or Chilli from TLC (despite rumors), and he wrote a song for Michael Jackson that wasn’t released for 25 years.
Reid’s proudest anecdote, however, came with the hip-hop duo OutKast, whom he helped become superstars: “I didn’t really know anything about rap. I went with my gut instinct. It’s not the singing business or the rapping business, but you have to entertain… with the success of OutKast, a real identity began to form around the new kind of Southern music that we were making. At the same time, hip-hop was becoming the most important new development in the music scene since the Beatles and the British Invasion.” You can buy Sing to Me on Amazon by clicking here.
5. He Hasn’t Announced His Future Plans
The topic that music fans will no doubt discuss is where Reid plans to go next. According to Billboard, “No word yet on who may come in to handle the transition — Epic President Sylvia Rhone’s name has been bandied about as a temporary solution — or whether Reid is headed to another company.” This uncertainty regarding Reid and his future plans should not last for long, however, if history tells us anything.
In the past, Reid’s job changes have typically been followed in quick succession by an announcement of a new position, whether it be with Island Def Jam Music Group in 2004, or Epic Records in 2011.