Male Music Execs Call on Recording Academy, Neil Portnow to End Gender Disparity

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Thirty-eight executives signed the letter, which asked the Recording Academy to take "aggressive steps" to diversify its voting members.

One week after female music executives called on Recording Academy president Neil Portnow to resign over his comments that female musicians should "step up" to improve gender representation at the Grammys, some of their male peers have sent a new letter calling on Portnow and the Recording Academy to take "aggressive steps" to diversify the Academy's voting body, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed.

On Thursday, 38 male music executives — from Scooter Braun to Randy Jackson — sent a letter to Portnow and members of the Academy asking for greater transparency about the demographics of the Recording Academy and more effort to diversify the voting body. They stopped short, however, of asking Portnow to resign as a group of 21 female executives did last week.

"We are writing to stand alongside and in solidarity with the women who penned letters to you regarding gender disparity and ask that more significant and robust action be taken by The Recording Academy to answer their call," the letter reads. It cites a statistic that from 2013 to 2018, about 90 percent of Grammy nominations were awarded to men; 10 percent to women. "NARAS is meant to reflect all of the music industry and be 'by the people and for the people.' Structural flaws in the makeup of the Recording Academy itself have led to systemic issues in the selection of nominees and winners for the awards."

Signees called on the Academy to release the demographics of its voting members and "make necessary changes to the population" to reflect the musicians it represents to amend those structural flaws. 

"If NARAS aspires to be an authentic representation of our music industry, then now is the time for the Recording Academy to lead through balanced inclusively," the letter adds. "The Recording Academy has a responsibility to take aggressive steps in order to move forward for the greater good of our creative community."

Backlash over the lack of diversity among Grammy nominees was enflamed after Portnow responded to a question about gender disparity in the industry after the 2018 Grammy Awards by telling women to "step up" because they would be welcome within the industry. After the remarks, the female executives sent their letter and a Care2 Petition calling on Portnow to resign was created — it now has nearly 14,000 signatures.

Portnow and the Academy have yet to comment on the letter, which is below:

Dear Mr. Neil Portnow and all members of The Recording Academy:

We are writing to stand alongside and in solidarity with the women who penned letters to you regarding gender disparity and ask that more significant and robust action be taken by The Recording Academy to answer their call.

From 2013 to 2018, of almost 900 Grammy nominations, 90% were male and less than 10% were female.

NARAS is meant to reflect all of the music industry and be “by the people and for the people”.  Structural flaws in the makeup of The Recording Academy itself have led to systemic issues in the selection of nominees and winners for the awards. Now is the time for NARAS to lead and be transparent and dedicated to transforming its member base to truly mirror the rich gender and cultural diversity of our community.  NARAS should reveal the diversity (and/or the lack thereof) of its voting members and make necessary changes to the population of the Academy to better reflect the diverse music business voices the organization is meant to serve.

We realize the entire music industry, ourselves included, has significant work to do to achieve gender and ethnic diversity.  If NARAS aspires to be an authentic representation of our music industry, then now is the time for The Recording Academy to lead through balanced inclusivity.  The Recording Academy has a responsibility to take aggressive steps in order to move forward for the greater good of our creative community.  

We have faith that NARAS will rise to the task. 

Signed,

Chris Anokute, Young Forever, Inc.
Dave Ayers, Big Deal Music
Joshua Binder, Davis Shapiro Lewit et al
Scooter Braun, SB Projects
Cliff Burnstein, Q Prime
Steve Bursky, Foundations Music
Rich Cohen, LoyalT Management
Matt Colon, Deckstar
Jaddan Comerford, Unified Music Group
Pat Corcoran, Haight Brand
Phil Costello, Red Light Management
Marty Diamond, Paradigm Talent Agency
Dan Friedman, Equative Thinking
Eric Greenspan, Myman Greenspan Fox Rosenberg Mobasser Younger & Light LLP
Elliot Groffman, Carroll Guido & Groffman LLP
Michael Guido, Carroll Guido & Groffman LLP
Randy Jackson, 1963 Entertainment
Evet Jean, Opulent AM
Kenny MacPherson, Big Deal Music
Billy Mann, Manncom Creative Partners
Peter Mensch, Q Prime
Brian Message, ATC Management
Ian Montone, Monotone, Inc.
Craig Newman, ATC Management
Scott Rodger, Maverick
Aaron Rosenberg, Myman Greenspan Fox Rosenberg Mobasser Younger & Light LLP
Anthony Saleh, Emagen
Rich Schaefer, LoyalT Management
Brian Schwartz, 7S Management
Dalton Sim, Nettwerk Management
Drew Simmons, Foundations Music
Chris Tetzeli, 7S Management
Justin Tranter, JSFG Publishing
Jake Udell, TH3RD BRAIN
Dean Wilson
Tom Windish, Paradigm Talent Agency
Henny Yegezu, Equative Thinking
Jeremy Zimmer, United Talent Agency