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Midem 2015: L.A. Reid Calls 'X Factor' 'The Worst Thing I've Ever Done'
Epic chief L.A. Reid, whose regime at the label is on a hot streak after a bumpy start, did not mince words about his two-season stint as a judge on The X Factor from 2011-2012.
"It's the worst thing I've ever done," Reid said at a Pepsi-sponsored Midem breakfast chat on Saturday, June 6 in Cannes, France.
The event, a Pepsi-sponsored Q&A with Reid and outgoing Pepsi CMO Frank Cooper moderated by Kate Upshaw, found the Epic boss going deeper about his stint on the show and explaining why the experience didn't work for him.
"The first season, yes, I had a great time," he said. "It was a little bit of a vacation. I'd been making music, working at running labels for a long time, and it was a little bit of, 'Let me just have some fun.' But the second season I was fully engaged trying run a label, and it wasn't fun anymore.
"And more importantly, it really effected my taste -- it almost destroyed it," he continued. "It completely threw me off -- by the way, I have a book coming out soon, and it'll all be on my book," he interjected with a laugh. "But yeah, what works for television isn't necessarily the thing that works in the traditional journey of music, so I adjusted my taste for television. But the truth is, I lowered my bar -- my bar was quite high, if I'm being honest, and as a result I didn't have the same level of success. The bar is quite high again now, but it was damaging. I worked with Simon Cowell, who I love and have great respect for and he has great taste, but being around him for that long, I started to take on his taste, and I'm an amateur at having his taste -- I'm good at my kind of taste."
At this point Cooper interjected that the show's ratings were quite successful, saying that its first season averaged around 14 million viewers (actually more like 12 million).
"We definitely had the audience," Reid agreed. "And I can't criticize Simon because it was his show and we did well. But I think he made the statement that if we didn't do 20 million viewers it was a failure. We did 14 million, which is actually a runaway success, but because we didn't do 20 it was a failure. To be honest? The truth is: The Voice cleaned our clock."
Reid later followed up on his comments on Twitter, writing:
My comments at Midem were about me personally and were not meant to reflect on Simon Cowell, the X Factor, or its successes.-- LA Reid (@LA_Reid) June 7, 2015
@SimonCowell and I are lifelong friends and I have immense respect for his many talents and all that he has achieved.-- LA Reid (@LA_Reid) June 7, 2015
Billboard will have more from Reid and Cooper's chat and the Midem festival in the coming days.