Neil Portnow
Michael Zorn/Invision/AP
United States

The Recording Academy

Neil
Portnow

From playing bass in his Long Island high school garage band, The Savages, to leading the annual Grammy Awards ceremony as President/CEO of The Recording Academy, Neil Portnow has dedicated his career to music, musicians and education. 

Portnow graduated George Washington University in 1971 and got his start as a record producer and music supervisor, later joining RCA Records as staff producer. Stints as VP A&R at Arista and EMI America led to Jive Records, where he spent a decade-plus running their West Coast operation, rising to VP and guiding the Zomba Label Group’s roster, which included some of pop music’s most successful acts ever, among them: Britney Spears and NSYNC. 

In Nov. 2002, Portnow became President of the then-National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS), replacing the contentious Michael Greene, and proceeded to kick the much-criticized Grammy Awards ceremony into the 21st century by changing the voting process to en sure the results didn’t cause embarrassment (like Jethro Tull winning the first heavy metal award). Portnow has put his stamp on the institution, continuing to support the organization’s MusiCares foundation and opening the Grammy Museum in downtown Los Angeles in 2008, followed by additions in Cleveland, Mississippi, Nashville and the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.

Portnow will help the Grammys celebrate its 60th anniversary with next February’s edition, at New York’s Madison Square Garden, where it hasn’t been held since 2003, with all voting now taking place online for the first time. He will step down from his position July 2019.

Career

  • EMI Music
  • The Recording Academy
  • Jive Records

Education

  • George Washington University (DC, USA)

Variety Honors

  • 2017 Variety500 Honoree
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News from Variety

Deborah Dugan to Succeed Neil Portnow as Recording Academy Chief

Deborah Dugan to Succeed Neil Portnow as Recording Academy Chief

Deborah Dugan, CEO of the nonprofit AIDS organization (RED), has been selected to succeed Neil Portnow as the Recording Academy’s president/CEO, a source close to the situation confirmed to Variety. She will replace outgoing president/CEO Neil Portnow in July; the news was first reported by Billboard.Reps for the Academy and for Dugan either had no comment or did not respond to requests for comment. A source close to the situation tells Variety that even high-ranking executives at the Academy have...

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