Legendary music executive Desiree Perez of ROC Nation was one of six female recording industry leaders to respond this week to Neil Portnow, the president of the Recording Academy’s comment that women in music need to “step up” if they want to advance their careers.“Neil Portnow’s comments are not a reflection of being ‘inarticulate’ in a single interview. They are, unfortunately, emblematic of a much larger issue with the [National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences] organization as a whole on the broader set of inclusion issues across all demographics,” the women wrote in a letter sent to the Recording Academy’s board of trustees. The strongly worded letter also called the Academy, which presents the Grammy awards, “woefully out of touch with today’s music, the music business, and even more significantly society.”
The letter was signed by Jody Gerson, the chief executive of Universal’s publishing arm; Michele Anthony, an executive vice president at the Universal Music Group; Sylvia Rhone, the president of Epic Records; Julie Greenwald, the co-chairman of Atlantic Records; Julie Swidler, the general counsel of Sony Music; and Desiree Perez, the chief operating officer of Roc Nation. The letter makes it clear that these executives write on behalf of their companies, encompassing the three most influential music conglomerates in the world.
Due to the criticisms of Portnow and the Academy as a whole by Perez and the executives as well as artists such as Pink and Kelly Clarkson and the calls for Portnow’s resignation by industry lawyers and talent managers, the Academy has announced that it will create a task force to review it’s work in order to “overcome the explicit barriers and unconscious biases that impede female advancement in the music community.”Desiree Perez, COO of ROC Nation, is best known for her work with Jay-Z, but she has also worked with many top female artists such as Beyonce, Rihanna, and Mariah Carey. Her skills as a negotiator, her toughness, and her compassion have helped her to succeed in a male-dominated industry. Her recent criticisms of the industry are in line with her support of artist Mariah Carey’s involvement in the Time’s Up Movement and her assistance in spreading the #MeToo movement.