Trump’s signature of the Music Modernization Act on Thursday was widely regarded as monumental for the music industry. But why weren’t any women present?
Certainly the industry has a lot of powerful women executives, many of whom worked directly on shaping this legislation. And on the performance side, women musicians are frequently dominating the charts — on-stage or behind-the-scenes.
Yet none of those women appeared at Trump’s White House on Thursday for the Music Modernization Act signing ceremony.
On the executive side, there were some glaring absences. ASCAP chief executive Elizabeth Matthews seemed like one obvious pick for the ceremony, as well as BMI senior VP Ann Sweeney. Apparently, Sweeney was actually uninvited, according to a report by Billboard.
Also notably absent was industry attorney Dina LaPolt, who played a central role in shaping the Music Modernization Act. LaPolt was also fighting to keep the bill alive through its many challenges, right until the final Congressional vote.
Whether executives like Matthews and LaPolt were invited but declined is unknown.
On the artist side, a long list of male artists were present — with zero female artists.
Kid Rock was the most high-profile artist of the set, and Trump was flanked by John Rich and members of the all-male Christian rock band Mercy Me during the signing. Sam Moore of Sam & Dave also offered a speech, while former Doobie Brothers guitarist Jeff “Skunk” Baxter was on camera for most of the event.
Separately, Trump also invited Mike Love of the Beach Boys, whom he noted was ‘a friend of mine’ during the ceremony.
It should also be noted that Kanye West was expected to attend the ceremony, at least according to our sources. But instead, West enjoyed a broader lunch meeting and Oval Office sit down with Trump later in the day. The rapper, wearing a ‘Make America Great Again’ hat, used the meeting to pontificate on various topics for ten minutes straight.
Amazingly, not one woman performer, songwriter, or executive was present. One slight exception was West Virginia Senator Shelley Moore Capito, who ended up being the only woman at the ceremony (at least on camera).
Perhaps the stinging blow came when Donald Trump personally recognized controversial Recording Academy president Neil Portnow during the ceremony.
Trump singled out Portnow as being a ‘pretty big deal in the music industry,’ while thanking him for his attendance.
“I’m really pleased that some real leaders of industry are here with us for the enactment of this critical legislation,” Trump stated. “I see Neil Portnow, who in the world of music is big stuff. He’s the president and CEO of the Recording Academy, also known as the Grammys.”
Portnow is indeed one of the top executives in the industry, though his tenure at the Recording Academy has been highly controversial this year. Earlier, Portnow was blasted for telling women to ‘step up’ if they wanted better representation at the Grammys. Demands for Portnow’s resignation soon reached a fever pitch, and Portnow ultimately announced his retirement from the organization.