Grammy chief to step aside after furor on women

New York (AFP) –


The head of the Recording Academy, the professional group of musicians that administers the Grammys, said Thursday he will step aside months after an uproar over his remarks on women.

Recording Academy president and CEO Neil Portnow, whose 16-year tenure has been the longest of any chief of the body, said he would not seek an extension after his contract ends in July 2019.

A calm, bespectacled record industry executive who has put a focus on pressing for the music business's interests in Washington, Portnow was a largely uncontroversial figure until the latest Grammy Awards.

Asked by a reporter after the gala why more women were not winning the music industry's biggest prize, Portnow said that female musicians should "step up," while also speaking of the need for more mentorship.

Top female stars including Katy Perry and P!nk voiced outrage over his remarks and a group of women executives in the music business called on Portnow to step down as part of the "Time's Up" movement against gender inequality.

Portnow, in his statement, did not address the incident but said he wanted an orderly transition to choose his successor.

"The evolution of industries, institutions, and organizations is ultimately the key to their relevance, longevity and success," he said in a statement.

The spotlight on the gender imbalance came after men dominated the winners at the 60th Grammy Awards, although women -- Adele and Taylor Swift -- had won the top prize of Album of the Year the two previous years.

Portnow had nonetheless been credited with promoting racial and genre diversity, in part by switching the Recording Academy to online balloting to ensure better representation.

For the first time, hip-hop dominated the top nominations at the latest Grammys, although funk revivalist Bruno Mars was the night's big winner.