Legendary record label boss Antonio ‘LA’ Reid used his appearance at MIDEM to dismiss his time as a judge on The X Factor, claiming the show “almost destroyed” his taste in music.
“I adjusted my taste for television,” the Epic Records chairman/CEO told the MIDEM Pepsi breakfast, where he appeared in conversation with Pepsi’s chief marketing officer of global consumer engagement, Frank Cooper, and former X Factor UK host, Kate Thornton. “But, the truth is, I lowered my bar and, as a result, I didn’t have the same level of success. My bar is quite high again but it was damaging. I worked with Simon Cowell who I love and have great respect for, but Simon has a very specific taste and also a very strong presence. So, being around him for that amount of time, I started to take on his taste in music. He’s an expert at it, but I’m an amateur at having Simon’s taste. I’m good at having LA’s taste!”
During the good-natured panel, Reid – who appeared as a judge on the first two series of The X Factor USA – also said taking on the role was “the worst thing I could have ever done”.
“The first season I had a great time,” he said, “Because it was a little bit of a vacation to be honest. The second season I was fully engaged in trying to build a record company and it was a distraction.”
Nonetheless, Reid insisted the US version had actually been a relative success in terms of viewing figures, and was only considered a flop because fellow judge and X Factor creator Simon Cowell had predicted it would attract 20 million viewers, rather than the “14 million” it actually got.
“The truth is The Voice cleaned our clock,” he said. “The Voice came out, they pushed a button and the chair turned around!”
Reid also questioned whether any truly great artists had been discovered on TV talent shows.
“There are some people who become great stars as a result of having a TV platform, but I’m going to go out on a limb, only a certain kind of an artist would even audition for a TV talent show,” he said. “My guess is the great ones never would. I just can’t see Prince on American Idol. I just can’t see Kanye [West] standing waiting for the judges to say yes or no to his career.”
Reid also promised further revelations about his time on the show in a forthcoming book.