Home » How L.A Reid rose to mogul status

How L.A Reid rose to mogul status

How L.A. Reid's entrepreneurial spirit transcended music, leading to groundbreaking ventures in real estate, gaming, and more

by Adenike Adeodun

Antonio Marquis “L.A.” Reid shines as a brilliant star in the music industry as a record executive, A&R representative, and record producer. He was instrumental in the rise to stardom of top-tier artists such as Rihanna, Usher, Kanye West, Justin Bieber, and others. He played a crucial role in revitalizing Jennifer Lopez’s music career with her 2011 album, “Love?”. Also, his significant contributions were instrumental in reigniting Mariah Carey’s career, leading to the success of her multi-platinum 2005 album, which marked a triumphant return to the forefront of the music industry. Beyond his production prowess, Reid has also lent his expertise as a judge on “The American Idol” for two seasons, further solidifying his influence in the industry.

Reid’s remarkable talent in music is matched by his acumen in business, a skill set honed and highlighted by his studies at Harvard Business School. This combination of creative genius and business savvy enabled him to ascend to the top ranks of the music world, taking on roles such as chairman and CEO of Epic Records and The Island Def Jam Music Group, as well as president and CEO of Arista Records. In 2017, he expanded his legacy by co-founding Hitco Entertainment, a venture that found a new home with Concord in 2022.

Before ascending to executive heights, Reid started his illustrious music career in the 1970s as the drummer for the rock band, Pure Essence. By the 1980s, he transitioned to playing in the R&B group The Deele. The formation of LaFace Records in 1989 marked a pivotal moment in Reid’s career, establishing him as a key figure in the pop-R&B genre. The label, known for its distinctive sound, became a launchpad for artists like OutKast, Pink, and Usher, solidifying Reid’s status as a music industry luminary.

In 1996, L.A. Reid founded the Hitco Publishing Group in collaboration with Windswept Music. This partnership was a strategic move by Reid to connect with a new group of producers, songwriters, and up-and-coming artists. This initiative further demonstrated his expertise in building strategic connections as well as identifying and fostering talent. Reid’s executive role at Arista and later at the Island Def Jam Music Group underscored his innate ability to rejuvenate established artists and discover new talents, leaving an indelible mark on the industry. His tenure at Epic Records and his role in the production of Michael Jackson’s album “Xscape” in 2014 further attest to his visionary approach.

Aside from his musical prowess, Reid also has a passion for giving back to society. In 2006, L.A. Reid demonstrated his commitment to philanthropy by supporting arts programs for urban youth through the Art for Life Palm Beach fundraiser, an initiative hosted by Russell Simmons. His efforts were recognized the same year when he received the Music Visionary Award from the UJA Federation of New York. Reid’s philanthropic engagement extended to participating in the Taste of Hope event for the City of Hope organization and contributing to the Robin Hood Foundation, showcasing his dedication to making a positive impact on communities.

In a notable philanthropic endeavor in 2008, Reid took on the roles of writer and co-producer for the song “Just Stand Up.” This track was a collaborative effort featuring an array of music industry giants, including Mariah Carey, Beyoncé, Mary J. Blige, Rihanna, Fergie, Sheryl Crow, Miley, and other prominent artists. 

Renowned as a visionary businessman and a titan in talent discovery, L.A. Reid’s contributions to the music industry have been recognized with 18 Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) awards since 2006, three Grammy Awards, and a host of other accolades. These include the Harvard University Alumni Award for Excellence in Media and Entertainment, the Recording Academy’s President’s Merit Award, and UNICEF’s Spirit of Compassion Award, cementing his legacy as a transformative figure in the world of music. Billionaire Africa highlights his business ventures and investments, which include the following:

  • LaFace Records

LaFace Records, co-founded in 1988 by Antonio “L.A.” Reid and Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, transformed R&B and pop music. It became a cultural icon, launching stars like Usher, TLC, OutKast, Toni Braxton, Pink, Goodie Mob and Donell Jones, and redefining the music landscape of the 1990s and 2000s. 

In May 2000, Reid and his business partner, Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, divested their 50% stake in LaFace Records to its parent company, BMG, transitioning the label into an imprint of Arista Records. Arista assumed responsibility for sales, marketing, and promotions for the label’s roster. During this pivotal time, Reid was appointed president of Arista Records, succeeding music industry titan Clive Davis.

Reid’s tenure at Arista was marked by strategic artist signings, including Pink, whose album “Missundaztood” sold 5 million copies in the U.S., and Ciara, whose debut album “Goodies” sold 2.5 million copies. Additionally, Usher, initially signed by Reid at LaFace, released the multi-platinum album “Confessions” under Arista, selling over 10 million copies in the U.S. alone and generating four No. 1 singles. Outkast’s “Speakerboxxx/The Love Below” also achieved remarkable success, selling over 10 million copies and securing a Grammy Award for Album of the Year

  • MOON Ultra

Diversifying his portfolio, Reid also invested in MOON Ultra, a company celebrated for its inclusion in TIME Magazine’s “Best Inventions of 2020.” He participated in a Series B funding round, contributing to a $15 million investment in the innovative enterprise. MOON Ultra has made waves with its creation of a portable lighting device, distinguished by intuitive touch controls that allow users to customize both brightness and tone. This device is designed with content creators in mind, enabling them to capture their moments in the perfect light. The inspiration behind this user-centric innovation came from MOON Ultra’s CEO, Edward Madongorere, whose autistic son’s experiences highlighted the importance of adaptable and personalized lighting. 

  • Hitco Entertainment

 In January 2018, Antonio Reid, alongside entrepreneur Charles Goldstuck, co-founded the record label Hitco Entertainment, a venture that was later acquired by Concord in 2022. The label quickly made a name for itself in the music industry by signing a roster of talented artists, including Big Boi of Outkast, Dinah Jane of Fifth Harmony, SAINT JHN, and Yella Beezy. Among its notable successes, SAINT JHN’s track “Roses” achieved widespread acclaim in 2019 and 2020. Thanks to an Imanbek remix, the song soared to No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States and clinched the top spot on charts in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the UK, cementing SAINT JHN’s place in the international music scene.

  • Real Estate

Reid further showcased his entrepreneurial spirit by investing in real estate. These investments revealed his luxurious taste and strategic approach. In 2000, he purchased an apartment for $9.43 million located at 515 Park Avenue, Manhattan, New York. This prestigious building houses just 36 units, with Reid’s expansive 5,000-square-foot apartment positioned on the 10th floor. By 2013, he had placed the unit on the market for $18.9 million, eventually selling it for $16.5 million in January 2014. The apartment is a testament to luxury, featuring six bedrooms, seven full bathrooms, five half bathrooms, and an open-plan living and dining area with towering ceilings and extensive floor-to-ceiling windows. The kitchen is outfitted with top-of-the-line appliances and elegant Cesar stone countertops, while the foyer, which doubles as an art gallery, is accessible via one of three private elevators. At the time, the monthly homeowners association fee was $14,000.

In addition to his Manhattan property, L.A. Reid has made notable real estate ventures in the Hamptons, purchasing a 3.25-acre property in the Sagaponack hamlet in 2006 for $10 million. He listed the home for sale in 2013 at $19 million, ultimately selling it for $9 million in January 2019. The crown jewel of Reid’s real estate holdings is his magnificent Bel Air mansion, acquired in 2016 for $18 million. This architectural wonder spans 11,246 square feet and is defined by its seven bedrooms and nine bathrooms, embodying the pinnacle of modern luxury and sophistication. Initially listed for $22.9 million and later reduced to $21.5 million, this property, with its marble finishes, hardwood floors, and vast expanses of glass, stands as a bold statement of Reid’s lavish lifestyle and savvy investment acumen. These real estate ventures complement his impressive $300-million net worth, accumulated through a stellar career in music and successful entrepreneurial efforts.

  • Books

Reid is a man of many talents. Aside from being a shining light in the music industry, a transformative business leader, and a strategic investor, he is also a prolific writer. He is the author of the bestselling memoir ‘Sing to Me: My Story of Making Music, Finding Magic, and Searching for Who’s Next’, a book offering a revealing journey through his illustrious career in the music industry. 

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