Neil Portnow

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Neil Portnow
Neil Portnow 06ac05b4-a87f-48a0-b11c-15836ec6b53f.png
Background information
OriginGreat Neck, New York
Occupation(s)President of The Recording Academy

Neil R. Portnow is the president of The Recording Academy. Portnow was formerly the vice-president of the West Coast division of Jive Records.

Early career[edit]

Portnow grew up in Great Neck, New York. He played the bass guitar in a high school rock band, The Savages,[1] who released a 45 rpm record "Cheating on me"/"Best thing you ever had"[2] on Red Fox Records. The record did not achieve serious commercial success, but was included in a compilation of garage bands.[3]

Portnow graduated from The George Washington University in 1971, where he served as president of the GW Student Association.[4] He began his career as a record producer although he has only four production credits and music supervisor. He worked with RCA Records as staff producer, and as vice-president of A&R at Arista and EMI America. He was senior vice-president, then president, at 20th Century Records.

Jive Records[edit]

Portnow moved in 1989 to Jive Records, where he oversaw the expansion of their West Coast operation. In this position, he played a small role in the careers of some of the biggest acts of the late 1990s and early 2000s, including Britney Spears, NSYNC, and R. Kelly. He worked alongside Jive's president Clive Calder who ran Jive's parent company, the Zomba Label Group.

President of the Recording Academy[edit]

Portnow (to the left of US President Donald Trump) as the Music Modernization Act is signed into law in 2018

In November 2002, Portnow became the president of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS) (also known as The Recording Academy) – replacing C. Michael Greene, who served as president from 1988 to 2002.[4][5] At the 45th Annual Grammy Awards, he made his first Grammy night address as president.

Portnow led efforts to help musicians affected by Hurricane Katrina through the Academy's MusiCares Foundation.[6] He has also played a significant role in the digital music revolution, lobbying on Capitol Hill regarding artist compensation rights, particularly with regard to the Performance Rights Act, which requires artists to be paid for airplay on the radio. During the 51st Annual Grammy Awards in 2009, Portnow spoke about the election of President Barack Obama and encouraged his administration to add a cabinet-level position for Secretary of the Arts.

In May 2017, Portnow was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Music from Berklee College of Music.[7]

In May 2018, it was revealed that money intended for the Recording Academy charity MusiCares was siphoned off to pay for the cost overruns of hosting the 60th Annual Grammy Awards at New York City's Madison Square Garden.[8]

In October 2018, Portnow was present at the White House for the signing of the Music Modernization Act. Portnow had been a vocal supporter of getting the bill passed and signed into law.[9]

In February 2019, Neil Portnow announced he will step down as President of the Recording Academy in July 2019 after his contract is up.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "CelebrityAccess Industry Profiles". Retrieved 2014-02-05.
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-02-03. Retrieved 2012-06-09.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ "Turn Right To Open: Wyld Sydes Vol. 4". 2007-12-17. Retrieved 2014-02-05.
  4. ^ a b "GW Magazine". Retrieved 2014-02-05.
  5. ^ Bernard Weinraub, "Recording Executive Will Lead Group That Runs the Grammys", New York Times, October 2, 2002
  6. ^ "Neil Portnow, President of The Recording Academy, Delivers Statement …". July 8, 2012. Archived from the original on July 8, 2012. Retrieved February 4, 2018.
  7. ^ "Berklee to honor Lionel Richie, Lucinda Williams, and Todd Rundgren at commencement - The Boston Globe". Retrieved February 4, 2018.
  8. ^ "Top Artist Managers Express Concern for MusiCares Amid Turmoil as Recording Academy Announces Record Dollar Distribution". Billboard. Retrieved 2019-02-14.
  9. ^
  10. ^ D'Zurilla, Randy Lewis, Christie. "Recording Academy President Neil Portnow stepping down in 2019". Retrieved 2019-02-14.

External links[edit]

Cultural offices
Preceded by
Michael Greene
President of The Recording Academy