Leadership

LA Reid: Go with your gut when looking for a star

L.A. Reid has a knack for spotting talent.

The chairman and CEO of Epic Records is the man who discovered Rihanna and Usher. Reid was the head of Island Def Jam when Kanye West recorded his debut album, "The College Dropout." He is also credited with spearheading Mariah Carey's comeback record, "The Emancipation of Mimi."

"All I can tell you is that when special people enter a room, you always know that they're present," Reid said.

"I see the steel in their eyes, the determination in their spirit," he said. "If they actually have the creative wherewithal to make music that people will buy and become a part of the soundtrack to your life, those are the people I'm interested in."


L.A. Reid.
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L.A. Reid.

The legendary producer admitted that despite his success he feels he has been incredibly lucky.

"There's never been a time that I second-guessed my path. I've been one of the fortunate ones, you know. I have peaks and valleys in my career. Rock bottom? I don't know what that is. Not interested," Reid said.

"My business is the people business. ... So, yes they do make a product — that's music, but it's people. With people, we're flawed and because of that, there's peaks and valleys," he said.

Because of the unpredictability that comes with working with people, Reid says it's important to work with good people.

"I try to surround myself with really smart executives, and I can set a vision into place, and they can execute without me micromanaging them. I really believe in having strong people around me," he said.

Despite the ups and downs of the music industry, Reid isn't planning on giving it up any time soon. When CNBC asked him what his long-term plans were, the 59-year-old Reid said he likes what he's doing now.

"Hopefully, I'd like to be doing the exact same thing I'm doing right now, which is making music and searching for the next great artist. That's what I love. That's my passion," he said.

"I'll also do some more work in television, some more work in film, and music streaming and music publishing, and things that are associated with music and entertainment, but my life's quest is to find the great one," Reid said.