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Neil Portnow confirms he will stand down as Grammy boss next year

By | Published on Friday 1 June 2018

Grammy Awards

The boss of the US Recording Academy – the body best known globally as the producer of the Grammys – has announced that he will stand down when his current contract with the organisation expires next summer. Neil Portnow says he is confirming his intent to stand down next year now to allow a smooth transition over to the new leadership.

The Recording Academy and Portnow himself have faced much criticism in recent months following the lack of gender diversity at this year’s Grammy Awards and Portnow’s clumsy comments in response to that fact. Criticism of the lack of gender diversity at the Grammys this year followed criticism in recent years about the lack of ethnic and genre diversity at America’s big awards bash, and led to various accusations that the Recording Academy at large is out of touch with the wider music community and the modern music business.

Since this year’s Grammys debacle, Portnow has backtracked on some of the remarks he made in response to the gender diversity criticism. The Academy has also set up a diversity and inclusion taskforce to try to address “barriers and biases affecting women and other underrepresented voices in the music industry and, specifically, the Recording Academy”.

Confirming he planned to step down as CEO of the Academy next year, Portnow said in a statement yesterday: “The evolution of industries, institutions and organisations is ultimately the key to their relevance, longevity and success. Having been a member of the Recording Academy for four decades, serving as an elected leader and our President/CEO, I have not only witnessed our evolution, but proudly contributed significantly to the Academy’s growth and stature in the world”.

He went on: “When I had the honour of being selected to lead this great organisation in 2002, I vowed that on my watch, for the first time in our history, we would have a thoughtful, well-planned and collegial transition. With a little more than a year remaining on my current contract, I’ve decided that this is an appropriate time to deliver on that promise”.

Expanding on that theme, he added: “Accordingly, I’ll be working with our board to put the various elements in place that will ensure transparency, best practices, and the Academy’s ability to find the very best, brightest, and qualified leadership to take us into our seventh decade of operation”.

Also confirming Portnow’s decision to stand down next year was John Poppo, Chair of the Academy’s board, who said: “Since taking the helm in 2002, Neil has been instrumental in evolving the Recording Academy to address the needs of our creative community in a changing music landscape”.

He continued: “From critically-important music advocacy initiatives and financial assistance for our music community, to the music education and preservation programmes of the Grammy Museum and Grammy Music Education Coalition, Neil has not only advanced the Academy’s mission, he’s extended its reach and impact”.

Poppo then concluded: “The board and I are indebted to Neil for his years of heartful stewardship and visionary leadership. And, as we thank him for all he’s done, we also look forward to finding the right person to build on our solid foundation as the Recording Academy continues its work to ensure that music and the recording arts remain a thriving part of our cultural heritage”.