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Reid named chair of Island Def Jam Group

Music executive was ousted as Arista chief last month
/ Source: The Associated Press

Antonio “L.A.” Reid, ousted from the top job at Arista Records barely a month ago, was named chairman of Island Def Jam Music Group on Tuesday, where he will oversee the label’s stable of acts, including Jay-Z, Bon Jovi and Melissa Etheridge.

Reid’s three-year deal with the Universal Music Group-owned label will pay him just under $10 million, according to a source familiar with the contract. He also has a one-year option on the contract.

Reid, who over his career as a music producer and label head has racked up hits with artists such as Whitney Houston, Avril Lavigne and, most recently, hip-hop duo OutKast, could earn more with contract incentives linked to his ability to generate hits, the source said.

The appointment is effective Thursday, Universal officials said.

“We couldn’t be happier to be working with an executive who has the range of talents that Antonio brings to the company,” Doug Morris, UMG’s chairman and chief executive, said in a statement.

Reid replaces Lyor Cohen, who started Def Jam 21 years ago and left Island Def Jam last month to head Warner Music Group.

In a statement, Reid called the job “an amazing opportunity.”

Reid gained prominence in the early 1980s as a founding member of the R&B group The Deele, which featured then unknown Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds. The pair built a successful production and songwriting partnership with hits for artists such as Houston, and later for the group’s own label, LaFace Records, whose artists included Toni Braxton, TLC and Usher.

Reid became president and CEO of Arista in May 2000, succeeding the company’s founder, Clive Davis, who left because of parent company BMG’s mandatory retirement policy. Davis was named chairman and chief executive of BMG North America last week.

During his time at Arista, Reid oversaw the rise of new artists like Lavigne, Pink and OutKast, who made a point of thanking Reid on stage at the Grammy Awards when they won album of the year.

But Arista also had some lowlights under Reid. The follow-up album from Pink, “Try This,” has sold poorly since its release in the fall; her previous album, “M!ssundaztood,” sold more than 5 million copies.

Reid also re-signed Houston to a $100 million contract in 2001, despite rumors of drug use and erratic behavior. Houston’s subsequent album, “Just Whitney,” was the poorest-selling release of her career.