So after months of hints and rumors, it looks like Island Def Jam chairman Antonio “L.A.” Reid will leave his post to be a judge on Simon Cowell’s talent reality show, “The X Factor,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Cowell had been pursuing Reid for months, but there were complications: Cowell is connected to Sony Music through his Syco label, which will have the first right to release albums from “X Factor” winners. Island Def Jam is part of Universal Music Group, which now handles the “American Idol” music releases after taking them over from Sony Music following Cowell’s departure from the judge’s chair. So you can see why UMG wasn’t about to agree to Reid serving as a judge for what amounts to a rival show, even though his contract is up in December. “X Factor” debuts on Fox in September.
Now that hurdle has been cleared. It also answers a few other questions that have nothing to do with “X Factor,” which we’ll return to in a minute.
[More after the jump...]
Reid’s UMG boss, Doug Morris, departed his post a few weeks ago to make way for his successor, Lucian Grange. Morris is headed to Sony Music to be its new CEO. See where we’re going with this? It was still unclear as to what was going to happen with Reid under Grange. Was he going to step away from IDJ and get his own boutique label (sort of like LaFace, which he and Babyface ran)? Was he going to continue on as head of IDJ? How would the arrival of Sony Music’s Barry Weiss as UMG’s east coast head affect things?
Sources at Sony Music aren’t saying whether Reid will also have a role at the label, although we have a hunch he will. This is the man behind Rihanna, Pink, Avril Lavigne, Usher and Justin Bieber’s success (or at least he was at the helm during their success). Our Magic 8Ball says “yes” when we ask if he’ll get an imprint at Sony.
Back to “X Factor.” Reid is the first of four judges selected for “The X Factor.” There have been other names bandied about from Mariah Carey to Elton John. We imagine Jennifer Lopez’s resurgence as part of “American Idol’s” new judge panel will only make “X Factor’s” job easier when it comes to courting big names. Plus, Mark Burnett’s “The Voice” nabbed hotter-than-hot country artist Blake Shelton, as well as Christina Aguilera for its panel, so becoming a judge for a talent show isn’t looking quite like the job for has-beens as it once did.
Will Reid be a good judge? We think he’ll be a great judge. He’s very smart, had a strong ear for music, particularly current pop and R&B music, and has hands-on experience as a record executive, songwriter and record producer, so he can evaluate someone’s talent from both artistic and commercial angles. Cowell should find someone with similar rock smarts to balance the panel (though Reid is comfortable with rock as well). It’s a win-win for both Reid and Cowell and we’ll see soon if it’s also a win for Sony.
UPDATE: Today, March 17, LA Reid officially tendered his resignation from Island Def Jam. Below is his letter to his staff in full, which Entertainment Weekly was the first to publish.
To my Island Def Jam family:
After much consideration, I have decided to leave my position as
Chairman of the Island Def Jam Music Group.
I have always thrived on growth and the next great challenge, and I
look forward with much enthusiasm to what the future holds.
I am extremely proud of our beautiful roster and all we have
accomplished in my seven years with IDJ.
We continue to have incredible success together with today’s most phenomenal superstars –
Rihanna, Justin Bieber, Mariah Carey, Kanye West, Bon Jovi, Jennifer
Lopez, Ne-Yo, Rick Ross, The Killers, The-Dream, Chrisette Michele,
Jeezy and Ludacris to name a few.
I want to thank all of you for your amazing contributions.
With Warm Regards –