The Recording Academy officially announced today (May 31) that President/CEO Neil Portnow will begin preparing for a leadership transition after choosing not to seek an extension on his current contract, which expires in July 2019.
Portnow shared his plans at the Recording Academy’s semi-annual Board of Trustees meeting last week. Throughout the next year, Portnow will work with the Board to chart out an organizational succession and transition plan, while continuing his current work as active President/CEO of the Recording Academy and MusiCares, and Chair of the Board of the GRAMMY Museum.
Portnow, who has served as The Recording Academy’s President for 16 years, is the longest-serving President in the Recording Academy’s 60-year history.
“The evolution of industries, institutions, and organizations is ultimately the key to their relevance, longevity, and success,” said Portnow. “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. When I had the honor of being selected to lead this great organization 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. 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. I truly look forward to continuing my role leading the Academy in the year ahead, and to continuing the pursuit of excellence and the fine missions we embrace and deliver.”
“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,” said John Poppo, Chair of the Board. “From critically-important music advocacy initiatives and financial assistance for our music community, to the music education and preservation programs 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. 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.”
The decision arrives as The Recording Academy has received backlash after Portnow’s comments in January after the 60th annual Grammy Awards (where Alessia Cara was the only female to be honored onstage with a Grammy, despite multiple female Grammy contenders), when Portnow stated that women artists and executives needed to “step up” to receive more recognition in the industry.
Portnow later issued an apology, and announced in February that The Recording Academy would launch a task force to address barriers for female success in the music industry.
Portnow has also been under fire with allegations of diverting funds from The Recording Academy’s MusiCares Foundation to cover deficits from the recent Grammy Awards in New York City. Those accusations came from former MusiCares VP Dana Tomarken.
Portnow also sent a letter regarding his decision to step down from his role as President/CEO of The Recording Academy. Read the full statement below:
The evolution of industries, institutions, and organizations 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 President/CEO, I have not only witnessed our evolution, but proudly contributed to the Academy’s growth and stature in the world.
Serving as President/CEO of the Recording Academy has been one of the greatest joys of my life. When I had the honor of being selected to lead this great organization 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, which expires July 2019, I’ve decided that this is an appropriate time to deliver on that promise.
Last week, I shared my plans with the Board of Trustees and pledged to lead a smooth transition that would allow new leadership to take the Recording Academy into its seventh decade. Today, I wanted you to hear about it from me personally. Throughout the coming year, I will work with the Board to chart out an organizational succession plan, while continuing to serve as active President/CEO.
There will be opportunities to share thoughts, comments, and dialogue with you in the months ahead, as I hope to visit or connect with many of your Chapters. But I do want to take this moment to thank you for the dedication, commitment, and effort you have given to advance the Recoding Academy’s important mission of ensuring that the recording arts remain a valued part of our cultural heritage.
From our successes in music advocacy, to the growth of MusiCares, the establishment of the first GRAMMY Museum, the launch of the GRAMMY Music Education Coalition, and the continued celebration of our community’s most inspiring creators, it has been an extraordinary journey.
We can all be proud of what we’ve collectively done for the betterment of the creative community we love so dearly. And I continue to look forward to our mutual pursuit of excellence—in all that we are and all that we do.
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