Epic Records CEO L.A. Reid has gone on record admitting that being a judge on The X Factor was “the worst thing I’ve ever done.” According to Billboard, Reid explained why the show was so unpleasant during a Pepsi-sponsored chat with Pepsi’s outgoing CMO Frank Cooper at the Midem music industry conference in Cannes.
“The first season, yes, I had a great time. It was a little bit of a vacation,” he said. “But the second season I was fully engaged trying run a label, and it wasn’t fun anymore.” (As executive producer of Kenny G’s Paradise album, Reid does have some frame of reference for soul-obliterating work experiences.)
“And more importantly, it really affected my taste—it almost destroyed it,” said Reid, echoing complaints of those who have watched The X Factor. “It completely threw me off—by the way, I have a book coming out soon, and it’ll all be in my book,” the famous producer said, for those looking to pad their summer-reading list with tell-alls by beleaguered millionaires who lived through the indignity of moonlighting on national television. Reid also made assurances that any damage to his taste was temporary:
I adjusted my taste for television. But the truth is, I lowered my bar—my bar was quite high, if I’m being honest, and as a result I didn’t have the same level of success. The bar is quite high again now, but it was damaging. I worked with Simon Cowell, who I love and have great respect for, and he has great taste, but being around him for that long, I started to take on his taste, and I’m an amateur at having his taste—I’m good at my kind of taste.
Cooper then hopped into the explain that the show had great ratings, with more than 14 million viewers the first season. Reid put those ratings in context, saying, “[Simon] made the statement that if we didn’t do 20 million viewers it was a failure. We did 14 million, which is actually a runaway success, but because we didn’t do 20 it was a failure. To be honest? The truth is: The Voice cleaned our clock.”