L.A. Reid at Epic: His First Week on the Job

6 FEA L.A. Reid (Extra Photo) 1
Emily Blank

The "X Factor" judge and seasoned music executive has yet to be formally announced as the new head of Epic Label Group, but he's already mulling big ideas, like what it would take to bring Mariah Carey and Jennifer Lopez back into the Sony fold.

Doug Morris has yet to actually occupy his newly minted seat as CEO of Sony Music Entertainment (word is he’s in Europe until the 15th), but he’s made his presence known via an introductory memo sent to staff on July 6 promising to “begin a new and important chapter in the history of our great company.”

Conversely, new Epic Label Group head Antonio "L.A." Reid has been almost a regular fixture around the halls of midtown Manhattan's 550 Madison Ave., but as of end of day Monday July 11, a formal announcement of his arrival had yet to be made.

That’s not to say Reid didn’t have a busy first week. The longtime record executive, who left Island Def Jam in March to join Simon Cowell’s The X Factor as a judge, has been tending to the décor of his office, which will no doubt incorporate the warm colors and clean lines that adorned his previous suites, taking meetings and getting “his people” situated, however unofficially, according to a Sony insider. 

And there’s already been talk of big plans, like possibly bringing Mariah Carey (a Columbia artist from 1990 to 1999) and Jennifer Lopez (signed in 1999, "parted ways" with Epic in 2010) back into the Sony fold. Both were among Reid’s pet projects at IDJ, the former selling upwards of seven million albums under his watch, and the latter riding a comeback wave that began with her RedOne-produced single, “On The Floor” (a judging gig on American Idol didn’t hurt). Also worth noting: Lopez’s manager Benny Medina is a close friend of Reid’s. And, of course, there have been persistent rumors of Carey appearing on X Factor in some sort of mentoring capacity.   

Of course, getting these pop divas out of their respective deals would likely prove a tricky endeavor, but not an impossible one. After all, Morris’ post-Universal Music Group “no poaching” clause applies to staff, not artists, although where the former is concerned, there are plenty of Reid loyalists eager to make the jump to Epic. At the same time, Jive-RCA staffers are eyeing Barry Weiss' fiefdom over at Island Def Jam-Universal Motown Republic Group, as the industry continues its seemingly endless game of musical chairs. 

To that end, earlier chatter of certain multi-platinum artists heading Reid’s way may have been premature. It looks as if RCA will inherit the bulk of Jive’s marquee artists, including Pink (who was discovered and mentored by Reid) and Britney Spears, while Reid will be handed Ciara and, according to a source, “take care of Usher.” 

As for the Epic staffers who’ve weathered low morale for the better part of two years, many continue to be anxious about their standing in the label’s new world order, but some describe a feeling of being “energized” by Reid’s presence. Says a high-ranking industry insider: “L.A. is one of the only people inside that company that has his finger on the hip hop music 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.”