A week to the day after news broke that Epic Records chairman and CEO Antonio “L.A.” Reid would be departing Sony Music, his longtime associate, EVP of media & strategic development Laura Swanson, has left the building as well, Variety has learned.
A highly regarded publicity and media strategy veteran, Swanson had worked alongside Reid since the year 2000 when he was running Arista Records. The two would reunite at Island Def Jam, where Reid was named chairman and CEO in 2004 and again at Epic Records, where Swanson would restructure the PR department starting in 2015. She, along with more than a dozen Epic staffers, would also make the move from New York to Los Angeles, following Reid’s lead in early 2015.
It is believed that as result of being a Reid “loyalist,” Sony Music let Swanson go. Reid was being investigated internally after a former female assistant accused him of improper behavior and sexual harassment. In the hours after his departure was revealed, staff at Epic Records posted an image on Instagram declaring their love for their former boss. They were made to remove it, per Sony brass, say insiders.
Swanson was previously head of publicity for A&M Records, where she worked with Soundgarden, Blues Traveler, and Sheryl Crow; VP of publicity at Interscope Records; and an SVP at IDJ, where she and Reid counted such successful signings as Rihanna, Justin Bieber, and Mariah Carey, whose “The Emancipation of Mimi” was a multiplatinum smash for the singer in 2005.
At Epic, Swanson helped usher in a successful five-year run for the label, as hip-hop acts like Travis Scott, Future, and DJ Khaled each notched No. 1 albums. She also supervised campaigns for Meghan Trainor, Fifth Harmony, and the rollout for the soon-to-be released solo project from Camila Cabello.
Word from inside Sony is that CEO Rob Stringer had no choice but to let Reid go, and ultimately, “did the right thing,” says a source. Another insider says Swanson’s axing is likely “the first of many” still to come.
Currently, Epic Records president Sylvia Rhone is handling the day-to-day running of the label until a new CEO can be found.
Reid is represented by attorney Joel Katz of Greenberg Traurig; Swanson by Aaron Rosenberg of Myman Greenspan Fineman Fox Rosenberg & Light.