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Epic Records Chief L.A. Reid to Exit Sony Music (EXCLUSIVE)

Antonio Marquis “L.A.” Reid is leaving his post as chairman of Epic Records, Variety has learned. The veteran executive joined the Sony Music label in July 2011. During his six-year run, Reid signed such hit acts as Meghan Trainor, Future, Travis Scott, Fifth Harmony, and DJ Khaled, the latter of whom currently has the No. 1 song in the U.S. with “I’m the One.” He also brought Mariah Carey back into the Sony fold, after having signed the singer at his previous position as chief executive of Island Def Jam.

It is unclear what Reid’s next move will be, though he is an executive producer on the scripted drama “Cotton Club.” Reps for the label and for Sony Music would not comment.

A revered figure in the music industry, Reid got his start as a drummer, playing with R&B band The Deele, formed in his native Cincinnati, during the early ’80s. He later headed to Atlanta, where, in 1989, Reid and Deele bandmate Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds formed LaFace Records, a joint venture with Arista Records, and launched the careers of Usher, TLC, and Pink. In 2000, Arista absorbed LaFace and Reid became its new CEO.

Under his watch, Outkast’s 2004 album”Speakerboxxx/The Love Below” was a multiplatinum smash, winning a Grammy for Album of the year and eventually selling more than 10 million copies in the U.S.

Reid left what was then Sony/BMG for Universal that same year, joining IDJ, the label home to Kanye West, Rihanna, and Justin Bieber. It was there that Reid’s work with Carey resulted in the hit 2005 album, “The Emancipation of Mimi.”

Reid has seen some criticism, too. He’s reputed to be a big spender when it comes to artist budgets, the sort of deep pockets major labels can no longer afford in today’s downsized music industry. There have also been rumors of strife between him and Carey, which Reid hoped to quell by hosting a lavish dinner for the singer just a week ago.

His Epic stint was shaky at first. Back in 2011, Reid signed on to be a judge on Simon Cowell’s “X Factor.” While the show, which ran for three seasons, yielded the uber-successful group Fifth Hamony, Reid’s CEO duties were hampered by his TV obligations, he would later confess. Once freed of “Factor,” Reid was able to focus on A&R, shifting the label’s focus to a more urban roster and scoring several No. 1 albums, including releases by Future and Khaled. In a show of support from above — Rob Stringer ascended from chairman of Columbia Records to Sony Music CEO in April — Reid was given the green light to move Epic’s headquarters to Los Angeles. The label, along with other west coast annexes of Sony properties like Columbia, RCA Records and Sony/ATV Music Publishing, are based out of Sony Pictures’ Culver City lot.

In February 2016, Reid released his autobiography, a New York Times bestseller, “Sing to Me: My Story of Making Music, Finding Magic, and Searching for Who’s Next.”

No word yet on who may come in to handle the transition or whether Reid is headed to another company. In the past, Reid’s job changes have usually been followed in quick succession by an announcement of a new position.

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