Life on the Other Side of Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll
This is my third version of this post. I wanted to write about LA Reid and his massive failure as the chairman and CEO of Epic Records. Then I talked to some friends and discovered that I was wrong: LA was successful during his 6-year run at Epic. By the criteria of 2017, Epic artists such as DJ Khaled, Future, Meghan Trainor and Travis Scott are superstars. In my own defense, it was logical to think that LA was dismissed because Epic was a disaster. He was fired for sexually harassing an assistant, and I thought that Sony was using it as a convenient way to give him the boot. Historically, record companies pay off the vics rather than get rid of the perps. So it’s good news and bad news. The good news is that LA got axed because he sexually harassed an assistant. The bad news is that it wasn’t because he signed Yo Gotti.
Draft #2 acknowledged LA’s success, but it served mainly as a platform for jokes. LA is ludicrous, and mocking him and the artists he’s signed is easy. I trashed that draft this morning. I’m tired of snark, or snark at the expense of people who have accomplished far more than I have, which is approximately 95% of the population. Whenever I read Entertainment Weekly, I’m reminded that every week there’s a full magazine about people making films and TV shows; creating online content and launching websites and apps; writing books, and composing, recording and performing music. There are a slew of journalists writing about all of it, and while I covered Outside Lands for EW in 2013, I did it half-assed, meeting only two out of three deadlines. I blog every now and then, and I sort of cover Awards shows via live blogging on Facebook, but other than that, my creative output is limited to the photos I take of my closest friends, Kenny (Good Dog A) and Walter (Good Dog B).
That brings me to this post, which I now consider the first in a series. I worked at Epic from 1989 until 1996. It was a different time in the music industry, and it’s ridiculous to compare the Epic of then with the Epic of now. In 1990, a year after I started at Epic, global record sales hit an all-time high of $27.8 billion; by 2012, a year into LA’s tenure, it had dropped to $17 billion. While I doubt we would have signed Internet famous artists and reality TV runners-up like Chris Rene and Lil Poopy, as LA did, if the economics were equally dire, it’s a possibility.
I went to an Epic Records reunion in New York last month. It was fantastic, filled with friends, people I respect and admire, and only one guy I wanted to punch. It was a night of memories, reminders of the way we worked together and the records we broke. We were grateful that we worked for Dave Glew and not LA Reid, releasing records by Sade rather than Melanie Amaro, or Oasis as opposed to the Fray. That’s what I want to write about, but I have to hit the reset button. It’s going to take a minute, but I’ll be back.
In the interim, because I can’t be expected to retire the snark in one fell swoop, I leave you with some of my favorite LA quotes:
“I look forward with great enthusiasm to joining the Sony Music family as it affords us the opportunity to build Epic Recordings as the revolutionary music company of tomorrow. We are deeply committed to discovering and developing the next generation of superstars as well as implementing a fresh and innovative business model.” Epic press release issued just before LA signed YouTube sensations Karmin, a revolutionary pop duo straight outta Berklee.
“I recently did a blind tasting that I was quite proud of. For one bottle, I guessed 1994 Harlan, and it turned out to be a 1995 Harlan.” – Wine Spectator, 2009
“I’m crazy about that kid….” LA on Bobby Shmurda, shortly after Shmurda was arrested for conspiracy to commit murder, multiple weapons possession, and reckless endangerment, – Vibe Magazine, 2015
“I’m a fan of Bernardaud China. I like a festive table—if it’s Thanksgiving, I want it to feel like Thanksgiving. If it is summer, I want light and greens.” On table decorations in the Hamptons, – Architectural Digest, 2013