Like President Trump, Neil Portnow and too many other men refuse to admit without equivocation that they are part of the gender problem. Until that changes, not much else can. Is 12%, for example, or even 17% representation for women in music so much better than 9% that it deserves an announcement? The Recording Academy thought so, issuing a letter with its own analysis of women musical creators and performers.
After only one women, Best New Artist Alessia Cara, took the stage to pick up an award during the televised portion of the 60th annual Grammy Awards, Recording Academy President Neil Portnow caused a firestorm with his comment that "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… [need] to step up."
Several open letters from top female and male artists and music executives have called for change at the Recording Academy and its Grammy Awards. To date, almost 17,000 have signed a letter demanding Portnow's resignation.
"could we really be that far behind?"
This week Portnow & Co. continued their tone-deaf streak with an analysis sent to members that attempted to show that the stats for women in music are not as bad as an Annenberg study and the press portrays. Here's an excerpt of the letter with bolding added:
“When we read the headlines, ‘only 9% of GRAMMY nominees are women,’ we were troubled. Could we really be that far behind the rest of the industry?
“Going back six years, the study looks at only 5 of our 84 categories: Best New Artist, Record Of The Year, Song Of The Year, Album Of The Year, and Producer Of The Year, Non-Classical. In establishing current levels of representation across the music industry, the study states that only 22% of performers are women; 12% of songwriters are women; and 2% of producers are women. Aggregating the total number of performers, songwriters, and producers, we see that women comprise 12% of the total music creator population.* These figures are necessary for meaningful analysis.”
The letter then goes on to cite figures from the Annenberg study:
- Across all 84 categories, 17% of GRAMMY nominees are female (compared to 12% industry index)
- 36% of Best New Artist nominees are women (compared to 22% industry index)
- 21% of Song Of The Year nominees are women (compared to 12% industry index)
- 0% of Producer Of The Year, Non-Classical nominees are women (compared to 2% industry index
- 8% of Record Of The Year and 6% of Album Of The Year nominees are women.
It's Not A Grammy Problem?
The letter goes on to make another nearly as tone deaf point that the Grammys' gender gap is really a music industry gender gap.
As the leader of one of the top organizations claiming to represent the entire music industry, Neil Portnow and his Recording Academy are without equivocation responsible for both the problem and finding a solution.