With just a week to go until the second season of "The X Factor" wraps, Epic Records chairman and CEO Antonio "L.A." Reid has chosen to focus on his day job rather than do A&R from a seat on a TV show. It's not an imprudent move.
Reid made the first season of "X Factor" look like a factory line for Epic Records, signing three runners-up and agreeing to distribute the album from the season three winner, Melanie Amaro. Epic will release the Amaro album, which is technically a signing to Simon Cowell's label at Sony, Syco. That album was penciled in for a Dec. 4 release - she announced the date during several public appearances in early September - but it has been pushed back to first quarter 2013.
Two of Amaro's singles have already flopped and a third appears destined for the bargain bin as well. "Respect," released 10 months ago, has sold 24,000 copies, according to Soundscan. "Don't Fail Me Now," released in mid-September, has sold 20,000.
Amaro sang her latest single, "Long Distance," on the Dec. 6 "X Factor" results show that was watched by 7.84 million viewers. The single, released Dec. 3, sold 6,000 downloads last week.
Of the artists Epic signed from "X Factor's" first season, only the rapper Chris Rene has seen any significant results. "Young Homie," an original he sang during the competition, became his first single in March and sold 290,000 copies. "Trouble," an August release, has moved 51,000, and his album "I'm Right Here" has sold only 22,000 in 10 weeks of release.
Video: 'X Factor's' L.A. Reid and Demi Lovato at Billboard's Film & TV Conference, October 2012
Epic's plan was to use the soundtrack to the film "Think Like a Man" as a launch pad for Marcus Canty. His single from the movie, "Won't Make a Fool Out of You," sold 21,000 downloads. "In and Out" (featuring Wale), released July 31, sold 27,000 downloads. His debut album, "This Is… Marcus Canty," has a Jan. 22 release date.
Astro, a rapper who did not make it to the final rounds, was also signed to the label.
The clout of Epic does count for something. Josh Krajcik, the second-place finisher, signed with BMG Rights Management, which released his four-song EP "One Thing She'll Never Know" on Nov. 29. It has sold 4,000 copies.
Simon & L.A. on the Cover of Billboard
Reid told Access Hollywood, "I have a company to run that I've kind of neglected." His next project is Ciara, whose album has been moved around the schedule, followed by Avril Lavigne's latest, which Reid had initially hoped to release in December.
This season, with new judges and hosts, "X Factor" has recently pulled in about 8 million viewers for each Wednesday night performance show, often rising in its second hour. More importantly for Fox, its 18-49 demographic audience is so strong it gives them a ratings victory weekly for the night.
It's likely Cowell will not only need to hire a replacement for Reid, but also one for Britney Spears, who only signed a one-season deal. Cowell has said that the $5 million prize, which will be given out on Dec. 20, is likely to be reduced.