This biography of a living person needs additional citations for verification . (February 2014) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
|Origin||Great Neck, New York|
|Occupation(s)||former President of The Recording Academy |
former President of West Coast division of Jive Records
Neil R. Portnow is an American music industry executive who served as the chairman and CEO of The Recording Academy and MusiCares from 2002 to 2019. Prior to that, Portnow was the vice-president of the West Coast division of Jive Records and Arista Records.
Portnow grew up in Great Neck, New York. He played the bass guitar in a high school rock band, The Savages, rpm record "Cheating on me"/"Best thing you ever had" on Red Fox Records. The record did not achieve serious commercial success, but was included in a compilation of garage bands.who released a 45
Portnow graduated from The George Washington University in 1971, where he served as president of the GW Student Association.
Later in 1971, Neil Portnow formed his own firm, Portnow-Miller Company, Inc., where he served as president. His client list included RCA Records, The Entertainment Company, Babylon Records, and Playboy Records. Portnow's services incorporated radio promotion, marketing and creative services, music publishing, and record production.
The Screen Gems Publishing Group, later acquired by EMI, named him manager of talent acquisitions and development in 1972. He established the record production division for the company, working with producers, arrangers, musicians, and songs from writer/artists including Fleetwood Mac, Carole King, Melissa Manchester, and Cat Stevens. Portnow also negotiated domestic and international agreements in both the recording and music publishing areas.
A staff producer for RCA Records, Portnow was promoted to the post of executive producer in 1977. He was transferred from New York to West Coast operations in the newly created position of division vice president, artist and repertoire. He was responsible for negotiations that included a distribution arrangement for Elton John's Rocket Records.
In April 1979, he became the senior vice president for 20th Century Fox Records, and was promoted to President the following January. During Portnow's tenure the organization delivered three gold albums and a gold single from Grammy Stephanie Mills.
In March 1982, Portnow was named vice president, artists and repertoire, West Coast for Arista Records by Clive Davis. As the principal West Coast executive, he was responsible for all West Coast activity and he functioned as general manager for the company. He also worked on Whitney Houston's debut album in addition to projects involving acts such as Barry Manilow, Billy Ocean, the Thompson Twins, and Dionne Warwick.
In February of 1985, Portnow was appointed vice president, artists and repertoire, for EMI America Records where he was responsible for all A&R activity worldwide. In addition to supervising all new artist acquisitions, Portnow worked with artists including David Bowie, Sheena Easton, Corey Hart, Nona Hendryx, and Evelyn "Champagne" King. He helped establish a black music department, played a role in the signing of superstar Robert Palmer, and brought platinum and gold album recording artists Pet Shop Boys and Najee to the company.
In 1987, he was named music supervisor for Frank Mancuso Jr.'s production of Permanent Record for Paramount Pictures. Music from the film was on the Epic Records soundtrack album, which included the first film underscore as well as songs by Joe Strummer. Throughout his career, Portnow has been involved in many soundtrack projects, including Ghostbusters, 9 To 5, The Stunt Man, The World's Greatest Lover, and the 1986 hit About Last Night.
Portnow moved in 1989 to Jive Records, where he oversaw the expansion of their West Coast operation. In this position, he played a small role in the careers of some of the biggest acts of the late 1990s and early 2000s, including Britney Spears, NSYNC, and R. Kelly. He worked alongside Jive's president Clive Calder who ran Jive's parent company, the Zomba Label Group.
In November 2002, Portnow became the president of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS) (also known as The Recording Academy) – replacing C. Michael Greene, who served as president from 1988 to 2002.At the 45th Annual Grammy Awards, he made his first Grammy night address as president. He was named President/CEO in September 2007.
Portnow led efforts to help musicians affected by Hurricane Katrina through the Academy's MusiCares Foundation.He has also played a significant role in the digital music revolution, lobbying on Capitol Hill regarding artist compensation rights, particularly with regard to the Performance Rights Act, which requires artists to be paid for airplay on the radio. During the 51st Annual Grammy Awards in 2009, Portnow spoke about the election of President Barack Obama and encouraged his administration to add a cabinet-level position for Secretary of the Arts.
In 2018, Neil Portnow announced he would step down at the end of his contract on July 31, 2019.
As President/CEO, Portnow oversaw the 2008 opening of the Grammy Museum at L.A. Live in Los Angeles, as well as its three branches.He also led the merger of the Grammy Museum and Grammy Foundation into the newly expanded Grammy Museum, which positions itself as offering the best of each organization's initiatives in preservation, education, exhibitions, and public programming.
Portnow has also served as President/CEO of MusiCares. During his tenure he launched MusiCares' 20th Anniversary Giving Campaign.The campaign helped raise more than $12 million for the nonprofit organization, with the stated purpose of ensuring music people have a place to turn in times of financial, medical, and personal need.
Portnow is responsible for establishing an Advocacy & Government Relations department at the Recording Academy and increasing the organization's advocacy outreach. As an advocate for music people, he has managed strategic advocacy positions at the national, state, and local levels—both governmental and within music and its related industries. Under Portnow's leadership, the Advocacy department created Grammys on the Hill Advocacy Day as a companion to the Grammys on the Hill Awards event. Furthermore, in 2017, the Recording Academy's District Advocate day became the largest grassroots initiative for music in the nation under Portnow's direction. For the first time in history, music creators from all 50 states met with congressional offices in their home districts to discuss legislative issues affecting the music industry, including performance rights, copyright reform, and the impact of digital services.
In October 2018, Portnow was present at the White House for the signing of the Music Modernization Act. Portnow had been a vocal supporter of getting the bill passed and signed into law.
In May 2018, it was revealed that money intended for the Recording Academy charity MusiCares was siphoned off to pay for the cost overruns of hosting the 60th Annual Grammy Awards at New York City's Madison Square Garden.
Concerning the controversies of hosting the 60th Annual Grammy Awards in New York, Dana Tomarken, the former Executive VP of the MusiCares foundation claimed wrongful termination. She alleges that she was fired for pushing back against the academy's "boys club". She claimed that by having the MusiCares Person of the Year Tribute to Fleetwood Mac at Radio City Music Hall, the event had to forgo its traditional VIP dinner and silent auction. She had already been offered a deal to have the event at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The Barclays Center is owned by AEG, which competes directly with The Madison Square Garden Company which owns Madison Square Garden and Radio City. Irving Azoff who then had a joint venture with the Madison Square Garden Company told Tomarken that the event can't be held at the Barclays Center and instead had to be held at Radio City. Oak View Group which is associated with Azoff received 300 of the highest price tickets to the MusiCares event at Radio City. Oak View Group was supposed to sell them as a package deal which also included tickets to the Grammy Awards itself. MusiCares was promised to received $1.5 million from those tickets according to Dana Tomarken. Those 300 tickets were never sold and were then returned to MusiCares, which resulted in a loss.
Portnow also came under heavy criticism at the 60th Grammy Awards for suggesting that women in the music industry need to "step up". He later apologized for the statement saying that it was a poor choice of words.The following year, Dua Lipa referred to Portnow's comments when she won the Grammy Award for Best New Artist.
In January 2020 in the wake of the ouster of Portnow's replacement, Deborah Dugan, as the new president of the Recording Academy, the organization was accused of covering up an alleged sexual assault by Portnow of an artist after a Carnegie Hall concert, which Dugan cited as the reason for Portnow's departure.
Portnow sat on the 2018 executive board, Music & Entertainment Industry for the City of Hope, where he previously served a three-year term as President of the Music and Entertainment Industry chapter from 2000–2002, raising funds for the world-renowned cancer treatment and research center. In October 2003, the City Of Hope presented Portnow with its top philanthropy honor, the Spirit of Life Award, at a gala event that raised more than $2.3 million to benefit research and treatment efforts.
In May 2017, Portnow was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Music from Berklee College of Music.
Portnow was named the UJA-Federation of NY's Music Visionary of the Year at its annual luncheon in June 2014. Other honors include the George Washington University's Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award, and inclusion in Billboard magazine's Power 100 and the Variety500 industry lists.
A Grammy Award, or Grammy, is an award presented by The Recording Academy to recognize achievements in the music industry. The trophy depicts a gilded gramophone. The annual presentation ceremony features performances by prominent artists, and the presentation of those awards that have a more popular interest. The Grammys are the second of the Big Three major music awards held annually, was held May 1 in 2019.
Clive Jay Davis is an American record producer, A&R executive, and music industry executive. He has won five Grammy Awards and is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a non-performer.
The Grammy Award for Best Polka Album was an award presented at the Grammy Awards, a ceremony that was established in 1958 and originally called the Gramophone Awards, to recording artists for quality polka albums. Honors in several categories are presented at the ceremony annually by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences of the United States to "honor artistic achievement, technical proficiency and overall excellence in the recording industry, without regard to album sales or chart position".
A Latin Grammy Award is an award by The Latin Recording Academy to recognize outstanding achievement in the Latin music industry. The Latin Grammy honors works produced anywhere around the world that were recorded in either Spanish or Portuguese and is awarded in the United States. Submissions of products recorded in regional languages from Latin America and the Iberian Peninsula of Hispanophone or Lusophone countries such as Catalan, Guarani, Quechua may also be considered. Both the regular Grammy Award and the Latin Grammy Award have similar nominating and voting processes, in which the selections are decided by peers within the Latin music industry.
MusiCares Foundation is a non-profit organization established in 1989 and incorporated in 1993 by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Meant for musicians to have a place to turn in times of financial, personal, or medical crisis, its primary purpose is to focus the resources and attention of the music industry on human service issues which directly impact the health and welfare of the music community. The foundation's programs include emergency financial assistance, addiction recovery, outreach and leadership activities, and senior housing. MusiCares also offers hearing clinics backstage at several major festivals around the U.S. to help musicians protect their ears. Since 1989, MusiCares has distributed more than $48 million to artists in need.
Irving Azoff is an American entertainment executive and chairman of Full Stop Management, which represents recording artists.
Robert Kraft is an American songwriter, film composer, recording artist and record producer. As President of Fox Music from 1994 to 2012, he supervised the music for more than 300 Fox feature films, as well as dozens of TV shows. He co-produced the 2017 Score: A Film Music Documentary about film composers and the evolution of Hollywood film music.
The Recording Academy is an American learned academy of musicians, producers, recording engineers, and other musical professionals. It is famous for its Grammy Awards, which recognize achievements in the music industry.
Jerry L. Greenberg is an American music executive, who at 32, was the youngest president of any major record company in the recording industry and received that title in 1974 as President of Atlantic Records.
The MusiCares Person of the Year is an award presented annually by MusiCares, the charity arm of The Recording Academy, the same organization that distributes the Grammy Awards, to commend musicians for their artistic achievement in the music industry and dedication to philanthropy. The award's name reflects the non-profit health care organization known as MusiCares, established by the academy "to provide health and medical assistance to needy musicians". Chosen by the MusiCares Foundation, award recipients are honored during "Grammy week" with an "all-star" tribute concert that helps to raise money for the foundation.
Sergio Rozenblat, entrepreneur, attorney at law, music advocate and talented artistic director. He is a native of Argentina, based out of Miami, Florida.
Michael Greene, the president/CEO of Artist Tribe and myMuse, is most widely known for his tenure as head of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS), a role he held from 1988 to 2002.
Martin N. "Marty" Bandier is an American music industry executive who is the CEO/Chairman of Sony/ATV Music Publishing.
Randy Lennox is a Canadian media executive who is the president of Bell Media.
Mark Pitts is an American record producer, manager, currently the President of Urban Music at RCA Records and CEO of ByStorm Entertainment. He has managed a number of artists and produced musical tracks for performers including Notorious B.I.G, Faith Evans, Miguel, J. Cole, Jawan Harris, Kardinal Offishall, Ciara, Chris Brown, Usher, TLC, Anthony Hamilton, CeeLo Green and Ro James. Pitts co-produced Notorious (2009), Blue (2009) and I Got a Story to Tell: The Lyrics of Biggie Smalls.
The 60th Annual Grammy Awards ceremony was held on January 28, 2018. The CBS network broadcast the show live from Madison Square Garden in New York City. The show was moved to January to avoid coinciding with the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, as was the case in 2010 and 2014. James Corden returned as host.
Geoff Cottrill is an American marketer who formerly held top positions at Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola, Starbucks, and Converse. He is the father of the musical artist Clairo.
Julie Greifer Swidler is an American attorney and music industry executive.
Deborah Dugan is an American executive who was the president and chief executive officer of The Recording Academy from August 1, 2019 to January 16, 2020, until placed on administrative leave.
| President of The Recording Academy |