The current Recording Academy president and CEO, Neil Portnow, will step down from his position when his contract expires next year, Pitchfork reports.
Portnow’s term as president began in 2002 and is the longest in Recording Academy history. His contract runs through July 2019, Billboard reports, and new leadership should be in position by next summer.
In a statement confirming his decision to not seek a contract extension, Portnow said, “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 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.”
The statement comes amid increasing public pressure over institutional bias and gender inequality within the Academy and the music industry at large. Portnow himself came under attack, when, on January 28, 2018, he said in an interview after the 60th Grammy Awards that women needed to “step up.” Portnow made the comment after criticism arose when Alessia Cara was the only woman to receive a televised award.
The comment was promptly and publicly denounced by artists including Kelly Clarkson, Iggy Azalea, Katy Perry, Pink, Halsey and Charli XCX. Additionally, a petition calling for Portnow’s resignation received more than 30,000 signatures, while an open letter, signed by women executives, called Portnow “part of the problem.”