The National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences has tapped veteran label executive Neil Portnow as president – a post that had been vacant since the former chief, Michael Greene, left amid a swirl of controversy last spring.
Reporting to Recording Academy chairman Garth Fundis, Portnow will guide the music organization’s biggest public event – the Grammy Awards – as well as other awards shows and charity efforts, including the Latin Grammys, MusiCares and the Grammy Foundation.
The NARAS board settled on Portnow after a four-month search inside and outside the organization; Portnow himself has extensive background on both sides.
Senior vice president of West Coast operations at Zomba Music (home to teen-pop powerhouse Jive Records), he also has served as a volunteer for various academy events for two decades. More recently, Portnow has been secretary and treasurer of the NARAS board since 2000.
Portnow steps into the shoes of one of the most high-profile – and controversial – academy presidents in its 45-year history. Greene presided over a dramatic expansion of the organization’s profile, including the establishment of the Latin Grammys and a dramatic boost in charitable efforts.
But Greene also drew notoriety over accusations of sexual harassment from female employees at NARAS. The academy never publicly reprimanded the executive, however, and he departed his post in May with a severance package reported to be worth close to $10 million.
The appointment of long-serving Portnow is expected to bring some stability back to the organization, which is kicking into high gear in its preparations to move the Grammy fest to New York City for the first time in four years.
Portnow has been at Zomba for more than a decade, after founding the company’s Los Angeles office in 1989. Prior to that, he was vice president of A&R at EMI America Records. Portnow also has held executive posts at