Neil Portnow - Biography
Neil R. Portnow (born 1948, New York City) is the current president of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS). Portnow was formerly the vice-president of the West Coast division of Jive Records.
Portnow grew up in Great Neck, New York and graduated from The George Washington University in 1971. He started out as a record producer and music supervisor. He worked with RCA Records, Arista & EMI. He started working with Jive Records in 1989. He oversaw the expansion of their West Coast operation, making Jive a groundbreaking, successful label. Jive thrived under his leadership as Vice-President of the West Coast division and spearheaded the careers of some of the biggest acts of the late 1990s and early 2000s. He worked alongside Jive's president Clive Calder who ran Jive's parent company, the Zomba Label Group.
Portnow worked as music supervisor on three films: Permanent Record (1988), A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child (1989), and Wired (1989), in which he also appeared briefly as a bandleader.
Presidency of NARAS
In November 2002, Portnow became the President of NARAS (aka The Recording Academy) -- replacing the controversial C. Michael Greene who served as President since 1988. At the Grammy Awards of 2003, he made his first Grammy night address as president. He is considered more diplomatic, analytical, and strategic than his predecessor. The president is also noted for his calmness in his attitude when it comes to issues facing the music industry.
Portnow has worked with the Academy and within the music industry to secure the future of modern recordings, not to mention the fight against illegal downloading and piracy. He also led efforts to help musicians affected by Hurricane Katrina through the Academy's "MusicCares Foundation". He has also been at the forefront of the digital music revolution. Under Portnow's leadership he has been influential with making progress on capital hill for artist compensation rights. Recently the Performance Rights Act passed which requires artists to be paid for airplay on the radio. Also under Portnow's leadership the National Endowment of the Arts received further funding under the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. During the 51st Annual Grammy Awards in 2009, Neil spoke about the election of President Barack Obama and encouraged his administration to add a cabinet level position for Secretary of the Arts.
On March 24, 2011 Portnow's contract as president of the Academy was extended for four years up until 2015.
- National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences
- Grammy Awards
- Gabriel Abaroa
- Bernard Weinraub, "Recording Executive Will Lead Group That Runs the Grammys", New York Times, Oct. 2, 2002
- SongwriterUniverse magazine profile
- Digital.Hollywood profile (2004)