L.A. Reid's Epic Reign, By the Numbers

L.A. Reid
Courtesy of Epic Records

L.A. Reid

With help from Meghan Trainor, Future & Fifth Harmony.

"You know what comes after hot?" Antonio "L.A." Reid recently asked when paying tribute to and quoting from departing Sony Music CEO Doug Morris. "Cold."

It was Morris' departure (he remains Sony Music chairman emeritus), though, that ultimately led to Reid's abrupt exit Thursday (May 11) after a six-year perch running Epic only hours after Columbia CEO Rob Stringer had ascended to CEO throne of Sony Music. "Cold" might be one way to describe the news.

But Reid, like he and most every label head acknowledges, has had his share of both hot and cold streaks. According to numbers calculated by Billboard, when L.A. got to Epic in 2011, the label's market share dropped significantly from the previous year. The share went up slightly in 2012 and then down in 2013 but rose steadily from then onward especially with help from pop star Meghan Trainor, the X Factor-launched Fifth Harmony and prolific Atlanta rapper Future, among several others.

Here then are the precise album, single and streaming sales numbers from 2014 to today as Reid helmed Epic's turnaround

Reid began to turn Epic's fortunes around in 2014, according to Nielsen Music, with Michael Jackson's posthumous album Xscape, which featured unreleased material Reid himself curated and for which he was an executive producer. It was Epic’s biggest-selling album that year in the U.S. with 459,000 sold, according to Nielsen Music. This was followed by Trainor's Title EP (167,000), Sara Bareilles' Blessed Unrest (157,000) and A Great Big World's Is There Anybody Out There (155,000).

In 2015, Epic's biggest album seller was Trainor's Title, which carried over from the previous year and sold just over 1 million copies, good enough to make the year's seventh top seller. This was followed by Future's Ds2 and indie-ish rockers Modest Mouse's Strangers to Ourselves. I

In 2016, there was no one blockbuster, but Epic had 12 albums in the year's top 200 best-sellers, led by Trainor's Thank You (313,000), A Tribe Called Quest's We Got It From Here...Thank You 4 Your Service (239,000), again Trainor's Title (178,000) and Future's Evol (173,000).

While there have been no album breakouts for Epic thus far in 2017, Rick Ross' Rather You Than Me as of the week ending May 4 was the year's 25th biggest-seller with 132,000 copies sold and Future's Future hit No. 30 with 111,000.

Epic's track sales skyrocketed in 2014; its top seller was Trainor's ubiquitous "All About That Bass," which moved 4.4 million downloads and was the year's third biggest track. This was followed by A Great Big World and Christina Aguilera's ballad "Say Something," which moved 2.1 million in sales and was the year's 21st biggest seller.

2015 saw the rise of Fifth Harmony, whose "Worth It" with Kid Ink sold 1.7 million. This was followed by no less than four Trainor tracks, led by her collaboration with John Legend on "Like I'm Gonna Lose You" (1.5 million).

The following year, Fifth Harmony again was Epic's biggest song download, this time with “Work From Home," their collaboration with Ty Dolla $ign, selling 1.4 million as the year’s 11th biggest seller overall. And Trainor yet again had the year's 12th and 24th biggest downloads with "No" and "Me Too," respectively.

As for 2017 (through the week ending May 4), Future's "Mask Off," Travis Scott's "Goose Bumps" and DJ Khaled's "I'm the One” -- which just topped the Billboard Hot 100 this week as L.A. Reid was metaphorically escorted out of the building -- are Epic's biggest singles thus far.

Recent streaming data dating back to 2015 saw Epic artists Fifth Harmony's "Worth It" come in with 216.6 million streams -- the year's 25th most-streamed tune. That track was followed closely by Trainor's "All About That Bass" and Bobby Shmurda's "Hot Boy." In 2016, Fifth Harmony's "Work From Home" was the year’s eighth most-streamed song, with 453.3 streams. Future’s “Low Life,” featuring The Weeknd, was not far behind as the year’s 12th most-streamed song, with 425 million clicks. And for the year thus far, Future's "Mask Off" is the 10th biggest streamer with 251 million streams.

Epic songs that reached the top 20 of the Billboard Hot 100 since January 2016 include DJ Khaled’s “I’m the One,” featuring Justin Bieber, Quavo, Chance the Rapper and Lil Wayne (No. 1); Trainor's “No” (No. 3); Fifth Harmony’s “Work From Home,” featuring Ty Dolla $ign (No. 4); Machine Gun Kelly and Camila Cabello’s “Bad Things” (No. 4); Kent Jones’ “Don’t Mind” (No. 8); Yo Gotti’s “Down in the DM” (No. 13) and Zara Larsson and MNEK’s “Never Forget You” (No. 13).

In that same period, Epic had six No. 1 albums on the Billboard 200: Travis Scott's Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight and three No. 1s by Future: Evol, Future and Hndrxx. That was in addition to Khaled's first chart-topping set, Major Key, and A Tribe Called Quest's We Got It From Here...Thank You 4 Your Service—a fitting last title in the wake of the day's news.

--Additional reporting by Ed Christman and Keith Caulfield


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