Why haven’t more women received Grammy nominations? According to Neil Portnow, because they need to “step up.”
Last week, the USC Annenberg Initiative published a study with damning results for the Recording Academy. According to the global think tank, only 9.3% of women in the music industry have received Grammy nominations. In addition, male songwriters receive more credit over their female counterparts, 87.7% to 12.3%. Finally, under 6% of female songwriters had received 6 or more song credits.
So, what does the Grammys think of the results? According to Recording Academy President Neil Portnow, the responsibility to receive more recognition in the music industry falls on women.
“It has to begin with… women who have the creativity in their hearts and souls, who want to be musicians, who want to be engineers, producers, and want to be part of the industry on the executive level… [They need] to step up because I think they would be welcome. I don’t have personal experience of those kinds of brick walls that you face.”
The statement came after only one woman received a top award at Sunday night’s Grammys Awards.
Major female stars and their managers immediately lashed out at Portnow’s insensitive and out-of-touch comments. Lou Taylor, a seasoned music business manager, said in a now-deleted Instagram post,
“I hear the Academy needs a new accountant since you are in debt – I know a good woman who can “step up” and help get you out of debt and help you pull your head out of your a–.”
His TriStar Sports and Entertainment firm represents clients including Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez, and Mary J. Blige, among others.
Australian rapper Iggy Azalea also lambasted the Recording Academy President. In a tweet, she said,
“Every single woman in the entertainment business has stepped up again and again and been met with the door to the boys’ clubs cigar bar slammed in their face.”
“Neil’s comment was absurd. Female artists came HARD in 2017. But the nominees are selected by peers and their opinion of the music. Which means it’s a conversation about the standards of which the ENTIRE INDUSTRY expects women to uphold.”
She also blasted the Grammys for nepotism and lacking justice and fairness in failing to award more women.
On Twitter, Pink wrote,
“Women in music don’t need to ‘step up’. Women have been stepping up since the beginning of time. Stepping up, and also stepping aside.”
Nine-time Grammy winner Sheryl Crow added,
“I wish the Grammys would return to female/male categories. Who will young girls be inspired by to pick up a guitar and rock, when most every category is filled with men? I’m not sure it is about women needing to ‘step up’, (as said by the male in charge).”
Portnow’s comments have also infuriated music fans. On Care2, you’ll find a petition asking Neil Portnow to step down. It reads,
“Neil Portnow’s comments show a complete disregard for the many ways women have been overlooked, discredited, and disempowered in music. At a time when women and men across industries are screaming “Time’s Up” for, not only sexual harassment and assault, but also systemic discrimination that subjugates women and people of color, Portnow’s comments are especially tone-deaf.”
In just a few days, with a goal of 10,000, the petition has reached its mark.
Neil Portnow remains fairly unapologetic over his comments. In a statement published on Variety, the Recording Academy President said,
“Regrettably, I used two words, ‘step up,’ that, when taken out of context, do not convey my beliefs and the point I was trying to make… I regret that I wasn’t as articulate as I should have been in conveying this thought.”