Grammy leader to meet with awards critic

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NEW YORK (AP) - The chairman of the Recording Academy and the music industry veteran who wrote a scathing critique of this year’s Grammy results have agreed to start a dialogue.

Neil Portnow, chairman and CEO of the academy, and Steve Stoute, a former top music executive who now works in marketing, released a joint statement Thursday saying they planned discussions on how each side could better understand each other.

“This is a beginning, because Steve put his hand up and wanted to express his opinion, and I think the place to start is a few of us at the Academy,” Portnow said in an interview Thursday night. “We’ll see where that goes and that makes sense. I’m a collaborative person, the academy is always changing.”

Stoute said in an interview that he wanted to see more diversity in the membership, culturally and artistically, and perhaps rule changes that would make certain genres eligible for more awards.

Stoute took out a full-page ad in The New York Times on Feb. 20 to take the Grammys to task. During the Feb. 13 broadcast, Eminem, who was nominated for a leading 10 awards, took home just two in the rap field and lost in the prestigious record, song and album of the year categories, despite having 2010’s best-selling album with “Recovery” and one of the most popular songs with “I Love the Way You Lie” featuring Rihanna.

Another upset was the win of jazz singer and bassist Esperanza Spalding, who beat out more recognizable acts, including teen pop phenomenon Justin Bieber.

“I have come to the conclusion that the Grammy Awards have clearly lost touch with contemporary popular culture. My being a music fan has left me with an even greater and deeper sense of dismay, so much so that I feel compelled to write this letter,” he said at the time.

On Thursday night, he said he was hopeful his conversations with Portnow and the Academy would provide real change.

“We’re planning on working hard and really making a difference,” he said.

Stoute, a former top music executive at Interscope who now runs his own branding and marketing firm, Translation, said he wrote the letter after years of artists’ frustrations he had been hearing came to a head this year.

“They were concerned about the process in voting and how they were coming up with the nominations and the winners, and they wanted some clarity and some level of understanding,” he said. “Their reaction was, `Thank you for doing that for us, Steve,’” said Stoute. “I know the pain that they were going through.”

Portnow said he hoped their dialogue would create better awareness and understanding.

“The place to start is that everybody understands what we do, how we do it, why we do it,” he said.

Portnow defended this year’s results, which included indie-rockers Arcade Fire’s win for best album. He said their victory reflected how the Grammys have evolved over the years.

“Frankly, I’m not so sure 10 years ago where an Arcade Fire could have received a best album (award),” he said.

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