L.A. Reid Wrong or Right
Every artist is one great song away from massive success.
by Walter Price
So here I am reading an article in Billboard (by Shirley Halperin), an interview, to be exact with mega record label guy responsible for Mariah, Justin The Bieber, Rhianna, Rick Ross, Kanye, Avril and one of my absolute fave pop-stars Pink in the multi-platinum arenas.
Cool, you do what you do and do it well and success will follow you and whomever you deem worth it to achieve / reach the stars. As it were. The thing about L.A. Reid that has always bothered me is he always comes across as an arrogant used car salesman when he does his TV interviews over the past 10 or so years. Then this Billboard article had a couple tidbits that highlighted the exact problems the majors labels are causing the world of music as a whole.
Altough Mr. Reid hit some good if not great points about the music business it was this bit of knowledge that hit sour (the entire quote so context is in play), “Today, artists look like artists. As record company people, we all claim that we can make stars, but we can’t put a coat of paint on anybody; it doesn’t work. I’ve had people say to me, “Yeah, that’s just another cookie-cutter pop star.” I’m like, “Really? Where is that mold? Because if there is a mold, then I’m going to churn them out like f—ing Big Macs!” What we can do is open up our door and allow people to come in, and if the special one arrives, we know how to not let them leave the office.”
I get it. Major labels and to some extent, some indies as well are just businesses trying to make some money. The majors are like fast food and car manufactures. Build em (the product/stars) with big cash in R&D and then churn them out to the masses. Knowing the limited warranty will run its course before the coolness or reliability does.
Mr. Reid is a pro who knows and to be fair he did add a couple bits that I understand and fully believe. This is about Mariah going back into the studio but it holds well for any artist, “Absolutely, but I don’t believe in asking artists to go back and be who they once were. I like concept records, I like the idea of thematic, storytelling records. I love duets and the Great American Songbook. I think a great vocalist should un-cage themselves and think about things like that sometimes. I mean, Frank Sinatra did it. It’s fun to sing songs you love. And let’s not forget that one of Mariah’s biggest hits, “I’ll Be There,” was a cover. There are many things that Mariah can still do.”
On streaming, “It’s a new frontier. And the truth is that there just aren’t enough subscribers yet. If we see millions of subscribers then we’ll see the per-stream rate go up and see a huge change in the landscape. I think tech and music or tech and entertainment are only starting to realize that they need each other. And so while they may not have fallen in love instantly, it’s the perfect arranged marriage.”
The, again, this one about artist image, “Today, artists look like artists. As record company people, we all claim that we can make stars, but we can’t put a coat of paint on anybody; it doesn’t work.”
It should have never worked but maybe the cycle of image over talent is slowly changing. I doubt this will fully ever leave us. There are plenty of consumer willing to forego depth and buy for packaging.
That is just the way it is.
Oh, L.A. Reid is also the Label Honcho responsible for Meghan Trainor. Who I am happy to say I’ve changed my mind about. Mostly.
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