The New King Of Pop

For the past five months, Antonio "L.A." Reid has held court as the head of Arista Records. See how he came to power and how he intends to preserve his throne.

of that figure alone, she says, with a mega-platinum smash album, Supernatural, that earned eight Grammy awards this year.

Not to be outdone, though, Reid is trying to fight his way out of Davis’ shadow. In late October, Reid signed his former LaFace partner, Babyface Edmonds, to a long-term recording contract. A superproducer, gifted songwriter, and R&B crooner in his own right, Edmonds has written and produced hits for the likes of Eric Clapton, Celine Dion, and Madonna. His installment as an Arista artist became effective after his latest album, Babyface: A Collection of His Greatest Hits, was released by Epic Records, a Sony company, on November 14.

With his former partner on the Arista ticket, Reid intends to outdo the contributions the two made while heading up their Atlanta-based label. “LaFace contributed 25% to 30% of the Arista top line for the past five consecutive years,” estimates Reid. Currently, Arista’s biggest artists are from the LaFace label, with Braxton, Outkast, and Usher currently serving as the label’s superstars, says Reid.

Pink, an alternative rock-pop artist, is also a LaFace artist who had one of the label’s biggest releases this year. “Pink is No. 1 on the Australian Top 10, and in the States, her sales are already more than $2 million,” boasts Reid.

Worthy of mention, however, is the lineup of artists for Davis’s new label, J Records. As part of the deal with BMG, J Records’ initial roster includes several former Arista artists: Deborah Cox, LFO, Next, and Q-Tip (formerly of A Tribe Called Quest).

Staying true to his core competencies, Reid still finds songs and sits with his artists. He also does record sequences, decides radio mixes, and selects treatments for music videos. On Columbus Day, he shared a screening of what he calls “the most creative video ever made.” It was for Outkast’s song, “Ms. Jackson.”

Doubling the revenues and adding significant market share are two of Reid’s goals as CEO. At the end of day, however, Reid still sees the artists and their music as the main ingredient. “My strategy is really simple: more stars and more hits.”

Clarence Avant: The Godfather’s blessing
Behind all great people, there are others just as great. Clarence Avant, called “Godfather” by many in the music industry, is one of those people. The former chairman of Motown Records (1993-1998) began his career in the entertainment industry 34 years ago, and is still running two of the companies he established in the ’60s and ’70s, Avant-Garde Publishing and Interior Records. He can be considered partly responsible for Antonio “L.A.” Reid’s success at Arista, as he spearheaded the joint venture between LaFace and Arista Records in the late ’80s. That business venture was Reid’s first introduction into the company of which he is now CEO.

Considered one of the most influential African Americans in the entertainment industry, Avant has been described as a selfless man. Quincy Jones, producer extraordinaire and good friend to Avant, once said that if Avant worked as hard for himself as he did for other

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