Grammys President Neil Portnow to step down four months after controversial “step up” comments about female artists

Portnow faced a backlash for remarks he made at the 2018 ceremony about recognising the success of female artists in the music industry

Recording Academy President Neil Portnow will reportedly step down from his position next year.

Portnow faced a backlash following the 2018 Grammys for remarks he made after the ceremony where he said female artists needed to “step up” in order to have their success recognised – comments which were made in response to the fact that only 9% of the 899 Grammy nominees this year were women.

“It has to begin with… women who have the creativity in their hearts and souls, who want to be musicians, who want to be engineers, producers, and want to be part of the industry on the executive level,” Portnow said after January’s ceremony. “[They need] to step up because I think they would be welcome.”


Portnow later backtracked and apologised for his comments, adding that he “realised that it’s about more than just my words”.

Billboard are now reporting that Portnow will step down as Grammys President in July 2019 when his contract expires. Portnow has served as the head of the Grammys’ organising arm since 2002.

“The evolution of industries, institutions and organisations is ultimately the key to their relevance, longevity and success.” Portnow said in a statement.

“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.”

Grammys organisation
Grammys boss Neil Portnow

The likes of Katy Perry, Pink and Charli XCX were among those to criticise Portnow’s choice of words at the 2018 Grammys back in January.


Only one major award at this year’s Grammys was won by a female artist – Alessia Cara, who picked up the prize for Best New Artist.