The Recording Academy Extends Neil Portnow's Contract

Academy President/CEO Portnow to remain at the helm of The Academy through 2015
  • Neil Portnow
March 24, 2011 -- 4:40 pm PDT

The Board of Trustees of The Recording Academy has extended President/CEO Neil Portnow's contract through 2015, it was announced today by Chair of the Board George J. Flanigen IV. At its semiannual meeting in November 2010, the Board voted unanimously to keep Portnow at the helm of The Academy for four more years.

"Neil's extensive experience and relationships across all aspects of the music and entertainment business combined with his collaborative, inclusive spirit are just a few of the qualities that make him an exceptional leader," said Flanigen. "As a member and volunteer elected leader of The Academy for more than 25 years, and as a musician himself, he has an innate understanding of the needs of our constituents and how best to serve them — especially in an ever-evolving industry. He continues to innovate and expand the scope of programs, events and services we offer regionally, nationally and internationally, always advancing The Academy's profile and mission and always with its best interests at heart. Neil's vision, humility, compassion, and creativity have served the organization well and I, along with our Board, look forward to continuing to work alongside him."

"It is truly an honor and a privilege to have the continued confidence and support of our Board in steering and guiding this remarkable organization," said Portnow. "Along with our extraordinary staff and elected leaders from across the country, we will continue to raise the bar on the level of excellence and achievement that can be attained by our Academy with a spirit of collaboration, diligence and innovation on behalf of and for the betterment of our creative community, both domestically and globally."

Portnow has served The Academy as a volunteer leader in a variety of roles, both locally and nationally, for more than 25 years. He began his career as a musician/producer/publisher. He previously served as senior vice president of West Coast operations for the Zomba Group of Companies, including Jive Records and Zomba Music Publishing, responsible for the overall vision and direction of Zomba's businesses on the West Coast, including sales and marketing, corporate and talent acquisitions, and management of all of Zomba's creative talent, the film and television music division, Zomba Music Services, Segue Music, and Ingenuity Entertainment. Prior to Zomba, he was vice president of A&R at EMI America Records; vice president/general manager, West Coast at Arista Records; and president, 20th Century Fox Records. In 2003 he was honored with City of Hope's Spirit of Life award, the highest philanthropic honor bestowed upon an individual by the world-renowned cancer treatment and research center. He has a bachelor of arts in communications from George Washington University.

Portnow became President of The Academy in December 2002, and was promoted to President/CEO in September 2007. In addition to being President/CEO of The Academy, Portnow is President/CEO of MusiCares and the GRAMMY Foundation, as well as Chair of the Board of the GRAMMY Museum. He will continue to serve as the lead executive of The Recording Academy, working closely with the Board of Trustees and its Chair, as well as The Academy's senior management team to advance the organization's goals and purpose, including the creative and strategic vision and the operations of The Academy and its related entities (the GRAMMY Awards, the Latin GRAMMY Awards, The Latin Recording Academy, MusiCares, the GRAMMY Foundation, the GRAMMY Museum, the Producers & Engineers Wing, and other programs).

Additionally, he will continue to represent The Academy to its many constituents and partners; serve as a trusted and important industry leader on issues relating to the music industry, including participation in national caucuses, seminars and similar events, and provide service and counsel to key domestic and international industry-related organizations. In keeping with The Academy's position as an advocate for its constituents, Portnow will develop and manage strategic advocacy positions at the national, state and local levels — both governmental and within music and its related industries.

Accomplishments under his leadership for the past three-and-a-half years include:

  • A consistent and significant increase in ratings for the annual GRAMMY Awards telecast. Last year's 35 percent increase in viewership was the highest year-over-year increase since the invention of people meters in the late '80s, and this year's increase brought the show its largest viewing audience in more than a decade


  • Development of "The GRAMMY Nominations Concert Live!! — Countdown To Music's Biggest Night" as a new TV property, helping raise awareness for the GRAMMY nominations and drive viewership toward the GRAMMY telecast
  • Establishing The Academy's first-ever Digital Media department, which has produced GRAMMY Live (72 hours of live coverage on leading up to the GRAMMY Awards telecast), and developed GRAMMY365 (a site dedicated to Academy members), among other online and digital initiatives and enhancements
  • Groundbreaking and innovative social media efforts across The Academy's official accounts on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, engaging music fans year-round
  • Creating an online listening function allowing Academy voting members the ability to review nominated music
  • Significantly increased attendance at the Pre-Telecast Ceremony, as well as streaming the event live on, which garnered a year-over-year increase in viewership
  • A record number of entries in the Awards process this past year, consistently high membership numbers, and redesigning the staff and operational structure of The Academy
  • The grand opening of the GRAMMY Museum at L.A. Live in December 2008, in partnership with AEG, and its immediate success within the music industry and with music fans from around the world. Most recently, the Museum has collaborated with Muzak in the discovery of more than 20,000 never-released recordings from the '30s, '40s and '50s from notable artists such as the Carter Family, Rosemary Clooney, Louis Prima, and Fats Waller, among others.
  • Creation of the MusiCares Nashville Flood Relief Fund in response to the floods that unexpectedly hit Nashville in May 2010, providing assistance and support to music people in need within 48–72 hours covering the most immediate and basic needs. Additionally, other music industry friends and partners joined MusiCares' flood relief efforts, including Guitar Center, Music Rising, the Gibson Foundation, and the Academy of Country Music's charitable foundation, Lifting Lives, as well as artists such as Faith Hill, Tim McGraw, Taylor Swift, and Keith Urban, among many others. The fund has raised more than $1 million and assisted more than 300 people to date.
  • Expansion of the GRAMMY Foundation's GRAMMY Camp program to New York in 2011. Now in its seventh year, GRAMMY Camp is a 10-day interactive residential summer music experience for music students that focuses on all aspects of commercial music
  • International expansion and outreach, including a partnership with China's Beijing Music Festival Arts Foundation, which will focus on developing GRAMMY-branded music education and entertainment programs in China, and The Academy's first international GRAMMY-branded event in Mexico City with GRAMMY Artists Revealed featuring Alejandro Fernández in September 2010. Additionally, the GRAMMY Awards telecast is now broadcast worldwide in a record 193 countries
  • Establishing a strategic alliance with the Recording Artists' Coalition that combines the efforts of both organizations to amplify artists' rights on Capitol Hill, with RAC becoming an integral part of The Academy's GRAMMYs on the Hill initiative, which advances the rights of music creators through advocacy, education and dialogue. The Eagles' Don Henley will be the recipient of the inaugural Recording Artists' Coalition Award at the upcoming GRAMMYs on the Hill Awards on April 13 in Washington, D.C.
  • Launching the MusiCares 20th Anniversary Campaign with an initial overall fundraising goal of $15 million, further ensuring music people have a place to turn in times of financial, medical and personal need. More than $11.1 million has been raised in the first year, thanks to a $5 million matching gift from Clive Calder and the ELMA Music Foundation, and a significant gift from Olivia Harrison and the Material World Foundation
  • Moving the organization to its new national headquarters in Santa Monica, Calif., built out to LEED's Gold environmental certification, and ensuring an appropriate and welcome home for decades to come

Since Portnow became President of the organization in 2002, he has identified and developed the Four Pillars of the organization — Membership/Awards, Music Education, Philanthropy & Charity, and Advocacy. His accomplishments in these and other areas have included:

  • Extension of the organization's mission and brand identity into the marketplace with the creation of The Academy's first-ever marketing department, which has developed a record-level of corporate sponsorships and partnerships, redesigned and introduced a new corporate logo, and initiated and developed a highly successful partnership with advertising agency TBWA\Chiat\Day, which has created award-winning ad campaigns since the 50th Annual GRAMMY Awards in 2008
  • Thirteen Emmy nominations and five wins for the annual GRAMMY Awards telecast
  • Collaborating with major record labels on the successful annual GRAMMY nominees album releases, which have enjoyed record sales and chart positions with a portion of proceeds benefiting MusiCares and the GRAMMY Foundation

Membership/Awards accomplishments include:

  • Revitalizing and expanding The Academy's Producers & Engineers Wing, which recently celebrated its 10th anniversary, as well as local Recording Academy Chapter activities and events
  • Launching the GRAMMY University Network, created to give music students and students interested in a career in music access to programs, panels, performance opportunities, leaders in the music industry, as well as other benefits, currently with a membership of more than 4,000

Music Education accomplishments include:

  • Developing and enhancing GRAMMY Camp, along with other GRAMMY in the Schools programs, including GRAMMY Signature Schools, GRAMMY Career Day and GRAMMY SoundChecks, as well as the Entertainment Law Initiative and the Starry Night gala fundraiser

Philanthropy & Charity accomplishments include:

  • Acquiring the Musicians Assistance Program and merging its services with those of MusiCares, providing even greater resources to aid musicians in need of financial, medical and critical assistance, as well as addiction recovery services
  • Establishing the MusiCares Hurricane Relief Fund with an initial $1 million commitment within days of Hurricane Katrina, providing immediate and crucial assistance to music industry professionals in the Gulf Coast region impacted by the disaster. The fund has provided more than $4 million in financial assistance to nearly 4,000 individuals directly affected by the disasters
  • Achieving record-breaking attendance and revenues for the annual MusiCares Person of the Year gala and MusiCares MAP Fund benefit concert

Advocacy accomplishments include:

  • Establishing an Advocacy & Government Relations department and dramatically increasing the organization's advocacy outreach by utilizing the organization's resources to advance the rights of artists through advocacy, education and dialogue; hiring a lobbyist in Washington, D.C., to assist with legislative initiatives and lobbying efforts; and hosting GRAMMY Town Hall and GRAMMY Industry Roundtable meetings — a series of high-level discussions with music industry leaders tackling important issues and the industry's most challenging topics
  • Creating a GRAMMYs on the Hill Advocacy Day as a companion to the GRAMMYs on the Hill Awards event, both of which represent the most significant and unified music industry presence in Washington, D.C.
  • Developing and implementing the first-ever CEO Summit meeting, which continues to be a semiannual gathering that includes leadership representation from every music industry organization, resulting in new, unprecedented cooperation and collaboration between the various creative and business constituencies

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