Grammy President Neil Portnow Stepping Down from Job Next Year After Saying Female Artists Need to 'Step Up'
Four months after Recording Academy president Neil Portnow received backlash for saying female artists “need to step up,” the organization announced he will be stepping down from the job next year.
“President/CEO Neil Portnow will begin preparing for a leadership transition after choosing not to seek an extension on his current contract, which expires in July 2019,” the Recording Academy said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE on Thursday.
“The evolution of industries, institutions, and organizations is ultimately the key to their relevance, longevity, and success,” Portnow said in the statement. “Having been a member of the Recording Academy for four decades, serving as an elected leader and our President/CEO, I have not only witnessed our evolution, but proudly contributed significantly to the Academy’s growth and statue in the world.”
According to the statement, Portnow announced his plans last week during the Recording Academy’s semi-annual Board of Trustees meeting.
Backlash against the Grammys president began in January, when Portnow shared his thoughts on why males had dominated the Grammy Awards that year.
“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,” he said in the press room following the awards ceremony.
He also added that if women wanted to win more awards, they needed “to step up.”
Amid the uproar over Portnow’s comments, over 30,000 people — including celebrities — signed a petition demanding Portnow step down from his presidential/CEO post at the Recording Academy. Over a dozen female record executives also signed a letter calling for his resignation.
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In a statement to PEOPLE, Portnow went on to apologize for his comments, saying that he “regrettably” “used two words, ‘step up,’ that, when taken out of context, do not convey my beliefs and the point I was trying to make.”
Following his apology, he and the Recording Academy announced the creation of an task force to aid “female advancement.”
“The Recording Academy is establishing an independent task force to review every aspect of what we do as an organization and identify where we can do more to overcome the explicit barriers and unconscious biases that impede female advancement in the music community,” Portnow said in a statement at the time. “We will also place ourselves under a microscope and tackle whatever truths are revealed.”