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"L.A. is one of the music industry's top record men. His passion for working with and developing some of the world's best artists is unparalleled."
——Rolf Schmidt-Holtz, BMG Chairman/CEO
L.A. REID EXITS ARISTA
BMG COO Michael Smellie in Charge, as Longtime Hitmaker Becomes Hot Free Agent
The Antonio "L.A." Reid era at Arista Records officially came to an end today, with the flamboyant executive exiting the label.

And while it lasted less than four years, Reid more than put his imprint on the company he took control of amid much industry skepticism after the 25-year reign under the legendary Clive Davis. Among the acts whose careers he launched are OutKast, Avril Lavigne, Pink, Usher, Toni Braxton and TLC.

Anticipating regulatory approval of the Sony BMG merger, BMG began the process of downsizing, with Arista expected to be folded into Bertelsmann’s other two record labels, RCA/J (ironically, under Davis) and/or Jive Records. The merger has just gone to Mario Monti’s European Union, which can take up to four months in making its decision, before going to the U.S. regulatory commission.

Executive management at Arista will report to BMG COO Michael Smellie, with Exec. VP/GM Larry Mestel reportedly in charge of the day-to-day operations.

"L.A. is one of the music industry's top record men. His passion for working with and developing some of the world's best artists is unparalleled," said BMG Chairman/CEO Rolf Schmidt-Holtz. "I sincerely wish him the best of luck in all future endeavors."

In May, 2000, Reid was officially named to the post of President/Chief Executive Officer at Arista Records, replacing the only leader the label has known since its inception in 1975, Clive Davis.

Reid was originally tapped as Clive’s successor by then-BMG Entertainment President/CEO Strauss Zelnick, whose desire to establish an orderly succession at the label caused a firestorm of media attention.

The company even sent Reid to Harvard Business School to learn the ropes of running a company.

At the time, Reid, a Cincinnati native who starred as a performer in the R&B group The Deele, was Co-President of LaFace Records, the label he co-founded in 1989 with bandmate/partner Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds as a joint venture with Arista. The LaFace roster included OutKast, TLC, Toni Braxton, Usher, Pink and Tony Rich.

Reid took over for Davis in July, 2000, and steered the label through one of its most successful periods, topped off by this year’s pop breakthrough for six-time Grammy nominees OutKast. The Atlanta rap duo have dominated the albums and singles charts into the new year, selling a total of 3.3 million OTC to date. Other hit Arista acts currently out and selling include Sarah McLachlan, Dido and fast-breaking Kelis.

Reid now becomes a hot free agent who will undoubtedly be pursued by such admirers of executive talent as WMG’s Edgar Bronfman Jr. and UMG’s Doug Morris.

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