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L.A. Reid Steps Down as Island Def Jam Chairman, Joins Simon Cowell’s ‘The X Factor’ Series

After helping to make stars of artists such as Mariah Carey, Kanye West, Rihanna and Justin Bieber, L.A. Reid has decided to step down from his position as chairman of Island Def Jam Records and join the American version of Simon Cowell’s upcoming show, “The X Factor.”

The move was confirmed on March 16 by, which also reported that Reid’s contract was set to expire in December.

Following Reid’s exit, Island Def Jam will continue to be run by Steve Bartels, the president and COO of the company, and overseen by Barry Weiss, who’s joining the parent company, Universal Music Group, this month.

“The X Factor” is a UK-based singing competition which launched the career of UK singer, Leona Lewis. The American version of the show will premiere on FOX in September, with the winner of the competition nabbing a $5 million contract with Sony Music Entertainment.

With Sony having such a vested interest in the show and Reid’s former Universal boss, Doug Morris, coming aboard as the CEO of the company on July 1, many music insiders are wondering if Reid is plotting an eventual return as a record executive at Sony.

A move to Sony would allow Reid to have a hand in the careers of major artists such as Alicia Keys and Beyoncé, as well as reunite him with former protégés, Monica and Usher.

Does Reid’s move to “The X Factor” signal expert strategy or desperation? –nicholas robinson