The Grammys Chief Says He Regrets His Dumb Take On Women In The Industry

Recording Academy president Neil Portnow has released a statement addressing gender inequality within the music industry, a day after facing backlash from artists and fans for claiming women need to “step up” to gain prominence in the field.

Responding to a question about the gender imbalance of 2018’s Grammy Award winners – only two women accepted awards on-stage during the award show’s broadcast – Portnow said women in the industry ought to “to step up because I think they would be welcome.”

That response provoked a response from singer Pink, who wrote that “women in music don’t need to ‘step up’ – women have been stepping since the beginning of time.”

“Stepping up, and also stepping aside, women OWNED music this year. They’ve been KILLING IT. And every year before this.”

Portnow’s comments also played into the #GrammysSoMale hashtag, which many viewers used to express their disdain for the ceremony.

Seeing the need to address the perception that his initial comments were astonishingly out of tune with the current swell of support for women in the entertainment industries, Portnow issued the following statement to People Magazine:

Sunday night, I was asked a question about the lack of female artist representation in certain categories of this year’s Grammy Awards. 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.

Our industry must recognize that women who dream of careers in music face barriers that men have never faced. We must actively work to eliminate these barriers and encourage women to live their dreams and express their passion and creativity through music. We must welcome, mentor, and empower them. Our community will be richer for it.

I regret that I wasn’t as articulate as I should have been in conveying this thought. I remain committed to doing everything I can to make our music community a better, safer, and more representative place for everyone.

A good place to start: granting the only female Album of the Year nominee the chance to perform a track solo, instead of stuffing the ceremony full of Sting. Maybe next time, right?