Former Grammy CEO Neil Portnow Got 41% Pay Raise Before Exit – to $2.6 Million

Portnow got a huge bump in the year before he exited; his female replacement says she was paid “substantially less”

The Recording Academy’s Form 990

The information is part of the Recording Academy’s form 990, which a tax-exempt organization is required to file publicly. Portnow started in the role in 2002 and earned $789,638 in 2003. In May 2018, just four months after he came under fire for suggesting women need to “step up” to be recognized at the Grammy Awards, Portnow announced he would step down when his contract expired in July 2019.

Deborah Dugan, who succeeded Portnow in the role last summer but was ousted last month after just seven months, said in an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint she “was paid substantially less than her two male predecessors.” In 2017, Dugan was paid $537,000 as CEO of Bono’s (RED) charity organization. Her salary as Recording Academy CEO has not been disclosed; her lawyers did not respond to requests for comment.

According to the L.A. Times, Michael Greene, who headed the Recording Academy from 1988 to 2002, earned $1.5 million in total compensation in 1998, including a bonus of $707,810. At the time, Stacy Palmer, editor of the Chronicle of Philanthropy, told the Times, “As far as I know, a bonus of this size is unprecedented in the nonprofit world.”

By comparison, Dawn Hudson, who has served as CEO of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences since 2011, earned a total of $917,949 in 2017 (which included $236,246 deemed as “retirement and other deferred compensation”). Maury McIntyre, president and COO of the Television Academy, made $512,232 during the same year.

Reps for the Recording Academy have not responded to multiple requests for comment.

Dugan was placed on administrative leave by the Academy’s executive committee last month and then filed an EEOC complaint that accused the Academy of corruption in Grammy voting and alleged that Academy’s general counsel, Joel Katz, sexually harassed her (Katz denied those claims) and that Portnow had been accused of raping a female recording artist following a performance at Carnegie Hall (Portnow called the accusations “ludicrous and untrue” and said an independent investigation had exonerated him).

In response to her complaint, the Recording Academy said that Dugan “was placed on administrative leave only after offering to step down and demanding $22 million from the Academy, which is a not-for-profit organization.” Dugan’s lawyers responded by saying, “On the morning of the day she was put on leave, the Academy offered Ms. Dugan millions of dollars to drop all of this and leave the Academy. The Board Chair demanded an answer within the hour. When Ms. Dugan refused to accept and walk away, she was put on leave.”

Sharon Waxman contributed to this report.

2020 Grammy Awards: The 12 Most Outrageous Red Carpet Looks (Photos)

  • The Grammy Awards never disappoints when it comes to fashion. From face masks to fringe, check out the top 12 most outrageous looks from the 2020 Grammys red carpet.

    Photo credit: Getty Images

  • Billie Eilish:

    The teen ingenue was unrecognizable in her face mask, sunglasses, and clawed gloves.


    Photo credit: Getty Images

  • Orville Peck:

    Face masks are a staple for artist Orville Peck, who’s look is a little bit country and a little bit “50 Shades.”

    Photo credit: Getty Images

  • Ben Platt:

    Diamonds are a guy’s best friend? Platt’s patterned jacket featured a graphic geometric print.

    Photo credit: Getty Images

  • Ariana Grande:

    The pop star made a “grande” entrance in this voluminous gauzy grey gown.

    Photo credit: Getty Images

  • Lizzo:

    Like Grande, Lizzo went super glam. We love her old Hollywood look.

    Photo credit: Getty Images

  • Ricky Rebel:

    This red lace look gave us serious Lady Gaga “Bad Romance” vibes, until we got to the codpiece and chaps.

    Photo credit: Getty Images

  • Billy Porter:

    The “Pose” star jumped on the fringe trend in this Baja East by Scott Studenberg blue jumpsuit with matching hat. The hat featured a motor that would retract the fringe, showing off Porter’s matching blue eyeshadow.

    Photo credit: Getty Images

  • Lil Nas X:

    You couldn’t miss this year’s standout in his hot pink suit.

    Photo credit: Getty Images

  • Tyler the Creator:

    The artist also chose to wear pink in this bellhop-inspired look. What’s in the suitcase?

    Photo credit: Getty Images

  • Chrissy Teigen:

    On Saturday, John Legend’s wife tweeted “I have been doing a lot to fit into the dress and would like to get tomorrow over with because a bitch is CRANKY for gravy.” We think she pulled off this sculptured gown gorgeously.

    Photo credit: Getty Images

  • Tove Lo:

    The Swedish pop star left nothing to the imagination in this bra-baring look.

    Photo credit: Getty Images

  • Shania Twain:

    This see-thru look doesn’t impress us much. It’s a bit boudoir. Do you agree?

    Photo credit: Getty Images

Face masks and fringe were the odd trends of the night

The Grammy Awards never disappoints when it comes to fashion. From face masks to fringe, check out the top 12 most outrageous looks from the 2020 Grammys red carpet.

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