Antonio “L.A.” Reid
Chairman/CEO, Epic Records
His rebuilding year caught fire with A Great Big World, Tamar Braxton and Sara Bareilles
No longer juggling dual roles as Epic chairman and “X Factor” judge, Antonio “L.A.” Reid presided over a year of rebuilding that included artist breakthroughs, notable releases by established acts and key Grammy Award nominations.
On the breakthrough front, Epic formally introduced girl group Fifth Harmony. Discovered through Fox’s “The X Factor,” the act released its “Better Together” EP, which debuted at No. 6 on the Billboard 200. Then A Great Big World scored a platinum Billboard Hot 100 top 10 hit with “Say Something” (featuring Christina Aguilera). “I love working with established artists,” Reid says, “but I’m also thrilled by and live for the idea of breaking new artists.”
Epic additionally rolled out notable releases by such established acts as Avril Lavigne, Ciara, Yo Gotti and Sara Bareilles. Bareilles’ “The Blessed Unrest” brought Epic a year-end highlight: a Grammy nod for album of the year. That joined Tamar Braxton’s three Grammy nominations for best R&B performance, best R&B song and best urban contemporary album. The nods stemmed from her Streamline/Epic debut “Love and War,” which bowed at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 and No. 1 on Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums.
Looking back on the past year, Reid says, “We’re redefining ourselves as an industry in the digital era and haven’t figured ourselves out yet. But the streaming business, with the debut of Beats Music, will be a great fixture and help to our business. Another 2013 standout for me was the overall improvement of music and artistry. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and Kendrick Lamar stood out, as did Lorde, who probably had the song of the year. This was a year of great music that will continue into 2014.”
Epic — which closed 2013 with a market share of 2.5% in albums plus track-equivalent albums, according to Nielsen SoundScan — remains focused on breaking new and developing acts. Its 2014 slate includes projects by Future, R&B newcomer Kesington Kross, Kat Dahlia (on Sylvia Rhone’s Epic-distributed Vested in Culture), Karmin’s full-length debut “Pulses” and Paloma Faith’s forthcoming third set “A Perfect Contradiction.”
“For whatever reason, things began coming together in the last few months of 2013,” Reid says. “I’m very excited about the music that’s coming. Folks better watch out. We’re cooking.”