As the C.E.O. of Epic Records (and once La Face), L.A. has launched the careers of some of your favorite acts like TLC. He has a unique ear for talent, and the know-how to make it shine.
“My success as an executive has to do with the art of A & R,” Reid said. “I’m willing to take chances on artists that I believe in. I’m willing to be wrong. I’m OK being wrong, I’m OK failing as a by product of success. I commit to the artists and I think that that is probably the thing I’m most proud of.”
He also attributed some of his success to sticking with artists when people say no and don’t necessarily see anything special in them. Reid said, “It may take years and those noes become yeses.”
Reid explained an example of noes becoming yeses is multi Grammy Award winning R&B superstar Usher.
Reid said when Usher was 14-years-old, may industry insiders would ask him why? According to Reid many of those questioning his interest in the soon to be singing sensation included radio programmers, television bookers as well as the gatekeepers to media and culture.
He recounted them saying, “You’re wasting your money, you’re wasting your time.”
From the age of 14 to 18, Reid said he saw “the whole thing change. And all of a sudden he became a massive star and it kept going and is still hasn’t stopped.”
Fontaine asked, what did he see in Usher that no one else saw.
Reid replied, “I saw steel in his eyes, I saw desire, I saw a commitment from him, I saw a charismatic young singer who understood how to seduce the women, even at the age of 14-years-old. I saw a special someone.”
Reid continued, “I saw someone who was willing to work harder at it for himself than anyone could work on his behalf.”
“That meant everything to me.”
Reid told Fontaine he did not think that the greatest talent on earth in the music industry were the people we see on television or hear on the radio.
“I think those are the people who worked the hardest.”
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