The Board of Trustees of The Recording Academy has extended President/CEO Neil Portnow's contract through 2019, it was announced by Chair of the Board Christine Albert. At its semiannual meeting in May, the Board voted unanimously to keep Portnow at the helm of the nonprofit music membership organization. Portnow, who had two years remaining on his existing contract, is now in his second decade at the helm of the premier music organization. He became President of The Academy in December 2002 and was promoted to President/CEO in September 2007.
"Neil is a dynamic leader whose collaborative, inclusive spirit and extensive experience and relationships across all aspects of music and entertainment have delivered dramatic financial, cultural and philanthropic benefits to The Recording Academy and its constituents," said Albert. "As a musician, a member, a longtime elected leader, and industry executive, he is uniquely qualified to understand and address the ongoing needs of our music community — especially in today's constantly evolving industry. Neil selflessly continues to advance The Academy's profile and mission in everything he does, and he continues to innovate and expand the scope of events, programs and services we offer. His creativity, compassion, humility, and vision have served the organization well, and I, along with my fellow officers and our Board, look forward to our continued collaboration with him as he proceeds to reap even greater rewards on behalf of the organization we all love so much."
"I am humbled and honored to continue to have our Board's trust and confidence in steering The Recording Academy's future," said Portnow. "Together with our elected leaders from around the country and our tireless staff, we have reached new heights of growth and success, both domestically and internationally. We will continue to strive for even greater levels of excellence and achievement, for the organization and on behalf of our creative community, and I look forward to continuing my second decade of service to this exceptional organization."
In addition to his role as President/CEO of The Recording Academy, Portnow is also President/CEO of MusiCares and the GRAMMY Foundation, Chair of the Board of the GRAMMY Museum, and a member of the Board of Trustees of The Latin Recording Academy. Under his leadership, and specifically in the past few years, some of his many accomplishments include:
- A consistent and significant increase in ratings over the last five years for the annual GRAMMY Awards telecast. This year's 55th GRAMMY show drew more than 28 million viewers, the second-largest audience for a GRAMMY telecast since 1993. In addition, the show drew 24.8 million social media comments, a nearly 50 percent increase over the previous year, and the highest for any awards show this year.
- Negotiating a new 10-year deal that keeps Music's Biggest Night, the annual GRAMMY Awards telecast, on CBS through 2021, further extending one of the longest broadcast partnerships in television history. The agreement also includes the continued annual broadcast of "The GRAMMY Nominations Concert Live!! — Countdown To Music's Biggest Night" (now entering its sixth year), and the addition of new GRAMMY specials.
- Creating an online listening function allowing Academy voting members the ability to review nominated music, and developing GRAMMY365, a site dedicated to Academy members only, among other online and digital initiatives and enhancements.
- Establishing a full-scale production for the GRAMMY Pre-Telecast Ceremony and a new home at the Nokia Theatre at L.A. Live. In addition, the Pre-Telecast has garnered a significant increase in attendance over the past several years, and the event continues to be streamed live on GRAMMY.com (which year over year has garnered increased viewership).
- A record number of entries in the Awards process in 2012, consistently high membership numbers, an expanded Member Services department, and redesigning the staff and operational structure of The Academy.
- After three decades of dreams, the grand opening of the GRAMMY Museum at L.A. Live in December 2008, in partnership with AEG. Since the Museum opened its doors, it has explored music history through more than 25 special exhibits, connected audiences to musicians and industry icons via 300 evening programs, and brought hands-on music education to more than 120,000 children and youth. The Museum will celebrate its five-year anniversary later this year.
- Launching MusiCares' 20th Anniversary Campaign, the first-ever for the charity, further ensuring music people will have a place to turn in times of financial, medical, and personal need. Noted entertainment attorney and MusiCares Board Chair Emeritus John Branca and legendary record company executive Mo Ostin were the campaign Co-Chairs, and more than $12 million has been raised, thanks to a $5 million matching gift from Clive Calder and the ELMA Music Foundation, a significant gift from Olivia Harrison and the Material World Foundation and other generous donations by noted artists, music professionals, and industry groups.
- Achieving record-breaking attendance and revenues for the annual MusiCares Person of the Year and MusiCares MAP Fund events, and the creation of the MusiCares Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund in response to the devastating storm that hit the East Coast in May 2012, providing assistance and support to music people in need, with funds being distributed within 48–72 hours covering the most immediate and basic needs. Additionally, in 2010, other music industry friends and partners joined MusiCares in Nashville Flood Relief efforts, raising more than $1 million and assisting more than 300 people to date.
- Expanding the GRAMMY Foundation's celebrated GRAMMY Camp program — a 10-day interactive residential summer music experience for music students that focuses on all aspects of commercial music — to include experiences in New York and Nashville as well as Los Angeles. GRAMMY Camp will celebrate its 10th anniversary in 2014.
- Launching the GRAMMY University Network, created to give music students and students interested in a career in music access to programs, panels, performance opportunities, and leaders in the music industry, as well as other benefits, currently with a membership of more than 5,000; and hiring an Executive Director to further develop and expand the program.
- Establishing the first-ever Music Educator Award to recognize music educators for their contributions to our musical landscape and their positive influence on their students' musical experiences. The inaugural award will be presented as part of the Special Merit Awards Ceremony in January 2014 (the night before the 56th Annual GRAMMY Awards telecast).
- International expansion and outreach, including plans that will focus on developing GRAMMY-branded music education and entertainment programs in China; the launch of a new GRAMMY-branded broadcast designed for Europe (to debut at the O2 Arena in London); and The Academy's first international GRAMMY-branded event in Mexico City in September 2010. Additionally, the GRAMMY Awards telecast is now broadcast worldwide in a record 193 countries.
- Creating the GRAMMYs on the Hill lobbying day as a companion to the esteemed GRAMMYs on the Hill Awards event, both of which advance the rights of music creators through advocacy, education and dialogue, and represent the most significant and unified music industry presence in Washington, D.C.; 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 a part of The Academy's GRAMMYs on the Hill Initiative; developing and implementing the first-ever music CEO Summit meeting, which continues to be a semiannual gathering that includes leadership representation from key music industry organizations, resulting in new, unprecedented cooperation and collaboration between the various creative and business constituencies.
- Extension of the organization's mission and brand identity into the marketplace with a record level of corporate sponsorships and partnerships, and a highly successful partnership with world-renowned advertising agency TBWA\Chiat\Day, which has created award-winning ad campaigns for the 50th–55th GRAMMY Awards.
- Groundbreaking and innovative social media efforts across The Academy's official accounts (Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, GetGlue, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, and YouTube), engaging music fans year-round, and establishing The Academy's first-ever Digital Media department, which has produced GRAMMY Live (72 hours of live coverage on GRAMMY.com leading up to the annual GRAMMY Awards telecast), and helping draw 4 million unique visitors to GRAMMY.com during the 55th GRAMMY weekend.
- Thirty-six Emmy nominations and 12 wins for the annual GRAMMY Awards telecast.
- Continued collaboration with record labels on the successful annual GRAMMY Nominees CD releases, which have enjoyed record sales and chart positions, with a portion of proceeds benefiting MusiCares and the GRAMMY Foundation.
Portnow 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/counsel to key domestic and international industry-related organizations. In keeping with The Academy's position as an advocate for its constituents, Portnow will continue to develop and manage strategic advocacy positions at the national, state and local levels — both governmental and within music and related industries.
Portnow has served The Academy as a volunteer leader in a variety of roles, both locally and nationally, for more than 25 years. He was 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, EMI America Records; vice president/general manager, West Coast Arista Records; and president, Twentieth Century Fox Records. He began his career as a musician, record producer, and music publisher. 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.