The following video interview with Neil Portnow, CEO and president of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, is from the latest edition of Billboard magazine. In addition to a special feature package on Portnow, who is celebrating ten years at the Recording Academy, this issue features: A cover story on the indie breakthrough act of the year The Lumineers; a feature on how lyrics are a growing revenue stream for publishers an songwriters; a look at how Rostrum Records breaks artists (like Wiz Khalifa) both online and on the road; how social media made this year’s Grammy noms more youthful and much more. Pick up this issue here or a Billboard subscription here.
Billboard recently asked several key music industry executives what they viewed as the most notable achievement of the Recording Academy during the past decade under the leadership of Neil Portnow. Both the the caliber of the executives responding — including Sony Music’s Clive Davis, AEG’s Randy Phillips, Sony/ATV’s Martin Bandier — as well as the responses themselves reflect on how highly regarded the Recording Academy’s president/CEO truly is.
Purchase this issue of Billboard with our special Neil Portnow feature HERE.
“Whether it’s the $12 million endowment fund for MusiCares, or sponsoring annually our very special pre-Grammy Gala, or the wonderful achievements of the Grammy Museum, or vitally strengthening the industry’s voice in Washington, Neil has spectacularly elevated the role of [the Recording Academy] in all our musical lives. I warmly congratulate him on his truly outstanding first
-CLIVE DAVIS, CHIEF CREATIVE OFFICER, SONY MUSIC
“I have tremendous respect for Mr. Portnow’s singular ability to not only recognize our industry’s legendary music makers but also to highlight and introduce developing artists of all genres to the Academy and Grammy audiences at large. No small feat, and one accomplished so masterfully.”
-ALEXANDRA PATSAVAS, OWNER, CHOP SHOP MUSIC GROUP
“Neil’s leadership of the MusiCares 20th-anniversary [endowment] campaign was visionary. The idea was bold and necessary for the long-term health of the organization. I was impressed at the team he surrounded himself with and how he kept inspiring everyone to the goal.”
-BILL SILVA, PRESIDENT, BILL SILVA ENTERTAINMENT
The Presidents: Neil Portnow with Preisdent Barack Obama (then a Senator) who won a Grammy for the audio recordings of both his books. (Photo: Jeff Fisbein/WireImage/Getty)
“Neil has brought trust, purpose and credibility back to the Recording Academy for the benefit of everyone, including all of us who love music and the music business.”
-MARTIN BANDIER, CHAIRMAN/CEO, SONY/ATV MUSIC PUBLISHING
“Neil has had so many notable achievements in his tenure as president of the Recording Academy that it’s hard to name just one. But if pressed, I would have to point to the incredible spirit of collaboration he has fostered. Neil is the ultimate bridge-builder.
“Whether finding common ground between the technology and creative communities-where he initiated the first tech summit round-table discussion, which brought the best in tech together with songwriters, publishers and artists in the same room, to hammering out a solution with the [striking Writers Guild of America in 2008] when it looked like the Grammy show would be compromised.
“I also would be remiss if I didn’t mention the spirit of inclusion that I’ve personally felt in the area of diversity, which certainly had an effect on my becoming the first African-American chairman of the board of trustees. His stewardship has been inspirational to me, and I’m proud to call him a friend.
-JIMMY JAM, SONGWRITER/PRODUCER AND CHAIRMAN EMERITUS OF THE RECORDING ACADEMY BOARD OF TRUSTEES
The Jimmies: Jimmy Jam (left), Recording Academy President/CEO Neil Portnow, and Jimmy Iovine attend the 5th annual Producers & Engineers Wing Event during 2012 Grammys week honoring Iovine at The Village Recording Studios in L.A. (Photo by Michael Kovac/WireImage)
“Under Neil’s passionate and focused leadership, the Recording Academy has accomplished a lot, but three areas in particular stand out. First, his belief in philanthropy has truly been a beacon of hope for so many in the music industry. Second, he has embraced new music and the future of music without dismissing or ignoring the legacy of all that has come before. Lastly, Neil, along with Ken Ehrlich, has once again made the Grammy telecast important, impactful and cross-generational. He is a great asset to our business.”
-ROB LIGHT, MANAGING PARTNER/HEAD OF MUSIC, CREATIVE ARTISTS AGENCY
“Neil’s greatest accomplishment in his 10 years at the Academy has been to bring a sense of stability to the organization. With regard to the Grammy show, he recognized the role played by the professionals who produce the Grammys annually and has allowed us to grow the show by letting us do our jobs. It’s been a distinct pleasure to work with Neil for the past 10 years, and I look forward to many more. One other thing, anecdotally: The first time we met, sitting in a restaurant, he said to me, ‘You know those special segments you do on the show? I think you call them ‘Grammy Moments’? Well, I know you want to do more of those and we should.’ And though I had been doing them all the way back to the first Grammy show I did, when I paired up Neil Diamond and Barbra Streisand, with Neil’s support we began to create more and more of these signature Grammy pieces, and that’s what the show has become known for. From Prince and Beyoncé to Elton John and Eminem, from Bruce Springsteen, Dave Grohl and Joe Walsh playing one of the greatest musical medleys in music history, the finale from Abbey Road, to the sweetness of Bonnie Raitt and Alicia Keys saluting Etta James, I believe that’s what separates the Grammys from all the other award shows. And Neil has not only allowed but encouraged us to create and produce these segments for the Grammy show.
“Personally, we’ve grown very close, and his support of my entire team has only added to our commitment to keeping the Grammy Awards, which I have happily produced for 33 years,
the best music show on television.”
-KEN EHRLICH, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER OF THE GRAMMY AWARDS TELECAST
“MusiCares has become a safety net for so many people in our industry that any of us who can should be supporting it in every way we can.”
-KEVIN LYMAN, CEO, 4FINI; FOUNDER, VANS WARPED TOUR
Neil Portnow (center) with LL Cool J and Taylor Swift who hosted the Grammy Nominations in Nashville on Dec. 5, 2012. (Getty Image)
“I am thrilled that Neil is being honored for his many years of incredible leadership at the Recording Academy. He has been a steadfast advocate for artist rights, royalties and compensation in the industry and, in
the increasingly digital world, Neil has been diligent in the fight against illegal piracy.”
-DEBRA L. LEE, CHAIRMAN/CEO, BET NETWORKS
“Neil Portnow’s stewardship of the Recording Academy over the last 10 years has been remarkable in the scope of his accomplishments and the renewed relevance of the organization and its major brands: the Grammys, MusiCares and the Grammy Museum at L.A. Live.
“Neil runs a nonprofit organization the way we run AEG and has turned the organization into a cutting-edge business operation whose success is measured not in stock price, but in the incredible good the Recording Academy is able to provide to our community by redeploying its largess.”When asked to name some of his accomplishments during his tenure, the ones that come to mind would be the incredible ratings success of the Grammy telecast and the subsequent precedent-setting multiyear deal he negotiated with CBS,
which ensures the Recording Academy’s economic viability long into the future; the growth of the MusiCares tribute dinner and the superstars that have participated year after year; and, his crowning achievement from a legacy standpoint, the award-winning Grammy Museum at L.A. Live, whose attendance numbers surpassed our most optimistic projections.
In addition, Neil and I both love going to flea markets and buying tons of junk.”
-RANDY PHILLIPS, PRESIDENT/CEO, AEG LIVE
“In the last 10 years, the Recording Academy has really excelled under the direction of Neil. Important programs like MusiCares, which gives much-needed help to those in the industry who need to get and stay healthy, really show that the Recording Academy is committed to the advancement and health of the music community. Neil has spearheaded this effort, and these kinds of strides are a tremendous credit to his caring and dedication.”
-TOM POLEMAN, PRESIDENT OF NATIONAL PROGRAMMING PLATFORMS, CLEAR CHANNEL MEDIA AND ENTERTAINMENT