At the 2008 Grammy Awards, Universal Music Group was up for 31 nominations and won nine, thanks in no small part to Antonio "L.A." Reid, who runs its Island Def Jam Music Group. Gayle talks with Antonio, an award-winning record executive, songwriter and record producer, about his passion for the music business and what's helped him succeed.
After the 2008 Grammys, Gayle attended Entertainment Weekly's toast to Antonio. She says some of the biggest names in the music industry were there to pay tribute to Antonio's many accomplishments. Antonio, who's worked with such music giants as Usher, Mariah Carey, Outkast and Pink to name just a few, says the respect is mutual. "I really feel them, and they think of me as one of them," he says. "They don't think of me as a record executive or a suit that runs a corporation. They think of me as a fellow music lover, a fellow music creator."
In addition to his love for music, Antonio says he has an uncanny ability to spot talent, which has been one of the keys to his success. So how does he pick artists with the "it" factor? "There's some kind of a spark," Antonio says. "It may be underdeveloped, like a diamond in the rough, but if it's there—if that sparkle is there—that's the piece that I don't even understand, but I can tell if it's there."