×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Recording Academy Narrows Search to Replace Neil Portnow

Shortlist is said to consider only CEO-level candidates, reducing the chances that a woman will be installed.

The Recording Academy has narrowed its pool of candidates to succeed outgoing chairman/president Neil Portnow to a shortlist of “three to five” finalists, with the Academy now focusing exclusively on executives at the CEO level, sources tell Variety. The next Recording Academy chief is expected to be named in late May, with Portnow staying on through the transition period, although it was unclear how long that period might last.

The CEO requirement, if accurate, would seem to eliminate many previously speculated candidates for the post. Candidates met with the Academy’s Board of Trustees and its executive search firm Korn Ferry over the past few weeks, and while sources say that the list includes at least one current member of the board — thought by many to be vice chair Ruby Marchand — neither she nor chair John Poppo have held top-level posts in the industry. Marchand is a longtime international A&R exec and was most recently senior VP of revenue and repertoire assurance at Warner Music Group’s WEA, while Poppo is a veteran engineer/producer.

Another source says the Academy is seeking someone who can run the organization “for the next 15 years,” which would seem to rule out further speculative candidates: Former BET chief Debra Lee, 64, who had often been discussed as a front-runner, is apparently no longer under consideration.

Reps for the Recording Academy did not respond to Variety’s request for comment.

According to an insider, the Recording Academy is looking for its next chief executive to have business acumen to run the $60 million operation, which includes not just producing the annual Grammy Awards, but also growing a membership of 22,000 and overseeing 12 local chapters.

The source adds that the decision to look only at chief executives doesn’t bode well for female candidates. Indeed, the Fortune 500 list of 2018 CEOs included only 24 women, or 4.8% of the total number. It also runs counter to hopes that the next chairman of the Academy will be a woman.

Many feel the Academy must have a female chairman after the uproar that surrounded the low female representation at the 2018 Grammys and Portnow’s unfortunate comment after the show that female artists and executives need to “step up” to receive greater recognition; there is little question that Portnow’s decision to exit his post, which he is slated to do in July, was influenced by that statement and his frequently criticized reactions to it.

While the 2019 Grammy winners and show featured a substantially stronger female presence, a single year’s improvement will not solve the problem, which the Academy formed a task force, led by former Obama White House official Tina Tchen, to help rectify. Speaking to Variety in February, Tchen said, “One of the things we’ve learned over the last year is that the recording industry, like other industries, has got a problem with diversity and inclusion … in every corner of the workplace.”

Yet even if the next Recording Academy chairman is female, “They’re not going to put a strong woman, like a Michele Anthony [Universal Music Group exec VP] or a Julie Swidler [Sony Music exec VP of business affairs and general counsel], in that job,” one source told Variety. “It’s going to be the same old white men calling the shots,” a scenario that could also include a female chairman heavily influenced by the Board of Trustees.

More Music

  • Nick Cannon poses for a portrait

    Nick Cannon on His New Radio Morning Show Gig: 'I'm Not New to Multitasking'

    Television host, comedian, actor, producer, rapper, and children’s book author Nick Cannon will now add radio host to his long list of endeavors. He’s Power 106’s new morning show host, coming on the heels of J Cruz’s move to Los Angeles competitor Real 92.3 for the afternoon slot. The SoCal native recently shot the 15th [...]

  • Rapper Drake attends the game between

    Drake Drops Two New Songs to Celebrate Toronto Raptors' NBA Triumph

    As promised, Drake dropped two new songs Saturday to celebrate the Toronto Raptors’ NBA championship win, “Omertà” and “Money in the Grave” (featuring Rick Ross) — the first new songs he’s dropped so far this year, although he recently appeared on songs by former foes Meek Mill and Chris Brown. Apart from some wording on the image [...]

  • NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE

    Watch Taylor Swift Give Surprise Performance at LGBT Landmark Stonewall Inn

    Taylor Swift is doubling down on her pro-LGBT activity during Pride month: Less than 24 hours after she dropped her new single “You Need to Calm Down,” which includes shout-outs to GLAAD and the LGBT community, she made a surprise appearance before about 100 people at the Stonewall Inn in New York’s Greenwich Village, the [...]

  • Nick Cannon King of the Dancehall

    Nick Cannon Joins L.A.'s Power 106 as Morning Show Host

    Nick Cannon is adding another hosting job to his resume. The entertainment renaissance man will join KPWR-FM (“Power 106”), Los Angeles’ top hip-hop radio station, as the morning show’s main host and producer. “Nick Cannon Mornings” will launch this Monday, June 17, and air from 5 to 10 a.m.  “Power 106 is one of the [...]

  • Plume of black smoke rising from

    Lawsuit Expected Next Week in Response to Universal Music Fire

    A Los Angeles law firm representing several Universal Music recording artists affected by the 2008 fire that destroyed a huge number of master recordings is expected to file a lawsuit as early as next week. King told Variety that he expects to sue for negligence and other torts. He declined to identify his clients, saying [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content