Antonio Marquis "L.A." Reid (born June 7, 1956) is an American music executive, musician, songwriter, record producer, author and former television music competition judge. He is currently the chairman and CEO of Epic Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment.
Reid's business acumen has helped to bring numerous music acts to multi-platinum sales, including Bobby Brown, Johnny Gill, Boyz II Men, Outkast, Toni Braxton, TLC, Mariah Carey, Avril Lavigne, Paula Abdul, Pink, Justin Bieber, Meghan Trainor, Rihanna, Kanye West, Usher, Ne-Yo, Young Jeezy, Ciara, Fifth Harmony, Zara Larsson and Jidenna.
Reid is also the CEO of Hitco Music Publishing, based in New York, and was the chairman and CEO of the Island Def Jam Music Group for six years until his move to Epic in 2011.
He appeared as a judge on the first two seasons of the U.S. version of the television show The X Factor, but in December 2012 announced he would not be back for the show's third season, saying he wanted to focus on his leadership at Epic Records.
Reid first began his music career as a drummer, with his first appearance on record being with the Cincinnati funk rock outfit Pure Essence. Pure Essence released one solitary 45 in the mid-1970s. They later appeared on local FM rock radio station WEBN's second annual LP compilation, but the group was renamed 'Essence'. Reid would experience more mainstream success when he became a member of the 1980s R&B band The Deele, best known for their 1988 hit "Two Occasions", a song on their third album Eyes of a Stranger. The band had broken up before the success of the single, then reunited to promote "Two Occasions" as it rose up the charts under Dick Griffey's Solar Records. The song peaked at number 10 on the Billboard Hot 100.
1989–2004: LaFace Records and Arista years
After The Deele disbanded, Reid and band mate Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds founded LaFace in 1989 through a joint venture with Arista Records, with funding from Arista Records creator Clive Davis. The label soon became one of the premiere destinations for popular African-American entertainers who created Black Pop music that was easily accessible to both Urban and Top 40 radio formats. Reid signed 14-year-old Usher to the label, whose six album releases have sold 65 million units worldwide. Other popular acts on the label during its peak include Toni Braxton, TLC, and Outkast. Both TLC and Toni Braxton went on to sell more than 65 million records each, becoming two of the most successful acts in music history. Initially headquartered in Atlanta, the label played a significant role in building the current landscape of the Atlanta music industry.
- Hitco Publishing Group
With the belief that good songwriting is essential to the success of recording artists, Reid formed the Hitco Publishing Group in 1996, as a joint venture with Windswept Music. While starting up Hitco, Reid was looking to connect to a wholly new market of producers and songwriters and talent spotted the young Shakir Stewart whom he saw as someone with "a finger on the pulse of the next generation of hot producers in the Atlanta music scene". He gave the future senior vice president of Island Def Jam Music Group his first position as an inter-level creative person at Hitco.
In May 2000, Edmonds and Reid sold their remaining 50% stake in LaFace to parent company BMG. The label became an imprint of Arista Records, with Arista taking on sales, marketing, and promotional duties for its acts. At this time, Reid also succeeded his mentor Clive Davis as president of Arista Records.
In 2000, LaFace was merged into Arista Records with Reid being promoted to president and CEO of Arista Records. In 1997 Reid was accepted to the Harvard Business School Advanced Management Program in preparation to become CEO of Arista Records in 2000. Reid signed his first unknown artist, pop/rocker Avril Lavigne, to Arista. Her debut album Let Go sold 6 million copies in the United States. As president of Arista Records, Reid brought the company great success by signing artists such as P!nk (whose November 2001 album Missundaztood sold 5 million copies in the US) and Ciara (whose September 2004 debut album Goodies sold 3 million copies in the US).
Under Reid's tenure at Arista, Usher (whom Reid originally signed at LaFace) completed production on his multi-platinum hit 2004 album Confessions, which went on to spawn 4 #1 hit singles and sell 10 million copies in the United States alone. Outkast's Speakerboxxx/The Love Below also went on to sell 10 million copies and won a Grammy Award for Album of the year.
He is still currently chairman/CEO of Hitco Music Publishing.
2004–2011: Island Def Jam Music Group
Following the merger of Sony and BMG, L.A. Reid was released from his contract at Arista in 2004 and quickly became the chairman and CEO of The Island Def Jam Music Group in February 2004. Reid is noted for bringing Mariah Carey's career back to prominence with her multi-platinum 2005 album The Emancipation of Mimi after her career had stalled from 2001 to 2003 with less than stellar sales and general lack of public interest for her two previous projects Glitter and Charmbracelet.
Reid also played a role in the successes of artists such Kanye West, Rihanna, Bon Jovi, and teenage pop phenomenon Justin Bieber and was also responsible for the musical comeback of Jennifer Lopez with her 2011 album Love?. Reid stepped down as Chairman/CEO of Island Def Jam in March 2011.
2011–present: The X Factor and return to Sony Music
In early 2011 Reid became a judge on the U.S. version of the British television singing competition The X Factor, alongside its creator and former American Idol judge Simon Cowell, 80s pop star Paula Abdul and former Pussycat Dolls singer Nicole Scherzinger, who replaced British recording artist Cheryl Cole.
Reid was assigned the Boys category throughout the competition, aided by friend and singer Rihanna at the Judges' Houses stage of the competition in The Hamptons. His final four acts were Marcus Canty, Chris Rene, Astro and Phillip Lomax. Lomax was eliminated on week one of the Live Shows, with Astro being eliminated on week six. Marcus Canty came fourth in the competition and was eliminated by the public vote in the semi-final (week eight). Chris Rene was Reid's most successful act who came third overall in the competition, bested by Josh Krajcik (who was mentored by Nicole Scherzinger) in second place and Melanie Amaro (mentored by Simon Cowell) who won the show. After the season ended, Reid worked with Astro, Marcus Canty and Chris Rene on their music careers.
In July 2011, Reid became the chairman and CEO of Epic Records which also includes various former Jive Records artists.
In September 2012, Reid returned for The X Factor's second season along with Simon Cowell, while Nicole Scherzinger and Paula Abdul were axed from the panel, along with Season 1 host Steve Jones. Joining the judging panel were new judges Britney Spears and Demi Lovato, while Khloé Kardashian and Mario Lopez replaced Jones as co-hosts. Reid had his team of finalists in the "over 25's" including Tate Stevens, the winner of the season. Reid announced in December 2012 that he would not return for the third season in 2013.
Awards and honors
On August 30, 2006, L.A. Reid, along with Babyface, was honored as a BMI Icon at the 6th annual BMI Urban Awards. As of 2006, he has won 18 BMI awards. Together with Babyface, Reid has produced and/or co-written penning numerous R&B hits, racking up over 40 No. 1 singles.
Reid was honored with the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences' President's Merit Award at the Grammy salute to Industry Icons celebration on February 9, 2013, the day prior to the 55th Grammy Awards.
Reid recently received an award from BET Honors for The Business of Entertainment Award.
Reid is the co-author (with Joel Selvin) of the New York Times bestseller Sing to Me: My Story of Making Music, Finding Magic, and Searching for Who's Next.