Letter from top female music industry execs calls the Recording Academy ‘woefully out of touch’

The Academy president Neil Portnow had previously said women in music need to "step up"

Some of the music industry’s top female executives have signed a letter addressed to the Recording Academy calling the organisation “woefully out of touch”.

The president of the academy, Neil Portnow, was on the receiving end of a backlash in the days following this year’s Grammys (January 28), after answering a question about the lack of female winners by saying women in music needed to “step up”.

As the New York Times reports, six of the most powerful women in music have now sent a message to the academy’s board of trustees, saying the organisation needs to become more open. The letter was signed by Universal Music Group executive vice president Michele Anthony, chief executive of Universal’s publishing arm Jody Gerson, Atlantic Records co-chairperson Julie Greenwald, Epic Records president Sylvia Rhone, Sony Music general counsel Julie Swidler, and chief operating officer of Roc Nation, Desiree Perez.

Recording Academy

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As well as calling the academy “woefully out of touch with today’s music, the music business, and even more significantly, society”, they said Portnow’s comments were “emblematic of a much larger issue with the Naras [National Academy Of Recording Arts and Sciences] organisation as a whole on the broader set of inclusion issues across all demographics.” The women also signed the letter on behalf of the companies that they work for.

Portnow issued a statement following the outcry over his remarks, saying the need for women to “step up” did not “convey my beliefs and the point I was trying to make”. Last week, the academy announced a new task force to tackle gender bias in the music industry.

The president faced calls to step down from female executives who described his comments as “spectacularly wrong”. In a letter, women working in the music industry said: “Today we are stepping up and stepping in to demand your resignation.”