Michael Greene

President and CEO

National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences Inc.

Michael Greene has been under the gun for most of the year.

The president and chief executive of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences Inc. was criticized several months ago for the small percentage of money NARAS' MusiCares Foundation actually gives to musicians with health and substance-abuse problems.

Then last week it was reported that NARAS, a non-profit organization, had awarded Greene a $707,810 bonus in 1997 making his annual compensation $1.5 million. That reportedly makes him the highest paid head of a non-profit organization.

Greene said he has been unfairly criticized for the high salary. The Grammy Awards brings in millions of dollars a year given its partnerships with the likes of CBS and Coca Cola Co. and needs a well-compensated businessman to run it, he said.

"This organization chose to leave the concept of being led by an executive director 10 years ago when they chose to hire a chief executive officer," Greene said. "I think many times that modern-day way of running a not-for profit is something some people take exception to. Excuse the hell out of me."

Aside from the latest criticism, Greene's day-to-day job running the Grammy Awards is not an easy one.

Artists who get a performance spot on the televised awards ceremony can sell millions of additional albums following the appearance. Those spots, only 13 of which are available each year, are highly coveted by artists and by their record companies.

"I guess the hardest part of what I do is dealing with some very, very important people in our business who are really not used to being told no," said Greene.

Greene, the son of a big-band leader, started out in the business as a musician, playing keyboard and horns, singing and writing songs. He recorded one album with the Hampton Grease Band, and others with the Mike Greene Band.

After moving through various jobs, including heading up a recording studio and running a UHF television station, Greene in 1985 became president of NARAS' chapter in Atlanta, an unpaid position. In 1988, Greene became the organization's second full-time president and chief executive.

Earlier this year, the Los Angeles Times reported that NARAS devoted about 10 percent of every dollar donated to MusiCares Foundation to actual assistance for musicians. But an independent audit of MusiCares' funding, conducted after the Times articles were published, found that 67 percent of MusiCares' revenues were used for charitable purposes.

"Now that we are a very large institution, (criticism) just goes with the territory," Greene said.

He also had a high-profile fight with New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani earlier this year that began when Giuliani accused Greene of verbally abusing a mayoral aide before a press conference in January. When it was announced that the Grammy Awards would return to L.A. next year, Giuliani said, "If they want to go to L.A., they can."

Daniel Taub

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