There's Now a Petition Calling for Recording Academy Boss Neil Portnow to Step Down

Neil "Step Up" Portnow is being told to step down.

This is a photo of Grammys.
Image via Getty/Michael Kovac
This is a photo of Grammys.

A petition calling for Recording Academy president Neil Portnow to get all the way the hell out of here has garnered thousands of signatures. The petition, started by Care2, received a tweet of support from singer Vanessa Carlton Wednesday. "Attention everyone, especially musicians: Step up," she said:

Attention everyone, especially musicians: Step up. And sign the petition to have Neil Portnow, president of the Recording Academy/Grammy's, to step down. We are close to our goal of 10000 votes. Pass along.

— 𝕍 𝕒 𝕟 𝕖 𝕤 𝕤 𝕒 ℂ 𝕒 𝕣 𝕝 𝕥 𝕠 𝕟 (@VanessaCarlton) January 31, 2018

Thank you for adding your voice @VanessaCarlton

— (@Care2) January 31, 2018

"Neil Portnow's comments show a complete disregard for the many ways women have been overlooked, discredited, and disempowered in music," the petition states, referencing Portnow's widely condemned "step up" remark. "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."

At the time of this writing, the petition was only a hundreds of signatures away from reaching its goal of 10,000 supporters.


The backlash against Portnow kicked off following comments he gave to Variety Sunday. Asked to comment on criticism about the Grammys' dude-heavy lineup, Portnow delivered his "step up" remark. "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," he said.

In a followup statement, Portnow expressed regret over the use of the "step up" phrase. "I regret that I wasn't as articulate as I should have been in conveying this thought," he said. "I remain committed to doing everything I can to make our music community a better, safer, and more representative place for everyone."

Portnow's initial comments were met with immediate criticism from women in the music industry. "Ugh bout 2 step up on 2 ur face.. women are making AMAZING music right now," Charli XCX tweeted. "Wtf is this dude talking about?"

Pink and Iggy Azalea also called out Portnow for the "step up" bullshit.

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