Female music executives have pushed back after the academy president Neil Portnow called for women artists to “step up.’
Portnow faced a barrage of complaints for his comment, which came after he was asked about the lack of female winners at this year’s Grammys last month. Many people took to Twitter to share their outrage, while those in the industry rebuked his statement.
According to NME, several prominent female figures in the music industry have banded together to write a letter to the academy’s board of trustees, stating that the problem isn’t with the artists, but with the organization which needs to become more accepting and open. The document 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.
In the letter, the women called the academy “woefully out of touch with today’s music, the music business, and even more significantly, society.” Portnow’s comments, they said, were “emblematic of a much larger issue with the Nation Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences organization as a whole on the broader set of inclusion issues across all demographics.” The letter was also endorsed by the companies the women represent.
The controversy stems from the lack of women to win any major awards at January’s ceremony. 21-year-old singer/songwriter Alessia Cara was the only female to win in a prominent category, taking home the prize for Best New Artist. The academy is supposedly already tackling the gender bias inside the industry, having announced last week their plans to commit a dedicated task force to the cause. Several winners called for change during their acceptance speeches, including Cara.
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