Since taking over Sony Music's Epic Records in July, label chairman and X Factor judge L.A. Reid has been busy rebuilding the company's image and roster, which will soon include Outkast and Ciara, sources say. Reid has a long history with both acts, who were originally signed to his LaFace Records (label home to a young Usher, Pink and TLC).
In 1994, LaFace, which had entered into a joint venture partnership with Sony's Arista Records in 1989, released Outkast's debut album, "Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik." Ten years later, with Reid nearing the end of his presidency at Arista, the duo's "Speakerboxxx/The Love Below" sold 11 million copies and won six Grammy awards.
Ciara came into the LaFace fold in 2004 with her first album, "Goodies." It featured the hit song "1, 2 Step" and has sold more than 2.5 million copies. Her most recent release, 2010's "Basic Instinct," came out via Jive Records. That label is being phased out due to recent consolidation and reshuffling among Sony's labels, which also include Columbia and RCA, resulting in dozens of layoffs in recent weeks.
Other Reid-era Epic signings include Atlanta MC Future, whose reported first single "Tony Montana" features popular rapper Drake, and Karmin, the duo known for its quirky interpretations of popular hip-hop tracks like Chris Brown's "Look At Me Now" and Lil Wayne's "6 Foot 7 Foot." But at the premiere party for "The X Factor" on Wednesday night, Reid told THR that the twosome of Amy Heidemann and Nick Noonan are not recording covers for their Epic debut, but rather original tracks. The executive cited his own days as a young struggling performer and songwriter, when having cover songs in your repertoire was de rigueur.
To that end, Reid certainly holds his own at the TV table alongside "X Factor" creator Simon Cowell and fellow judges Paula Abdul and Nicole Scherzinger. A preview of next week's premiere episode showed that Reid and Cowell often disagree on contestants and that Reid is, in fact, harsher than his British boss. At one point, Reid remarks that Cowell is "the greatest talent magnet in the world" but not necessarily the best "record man."
At a Q&A following the screening, all five cast members -- which include host Steve Jones -- continued to tease, clearly comfortable with each other and energized by a well-received first episode.
"The X Factor" premieres on Fox on September 21.