Ellie Goulding has penned a new essay that sees her question the process of music awards deciding nominations and winners while also asking for "transparency".
Goulding's new op-ed published yesterday (2 December) is titled The start of a conversation…, and sees Goulding reflect on her experience in the music industry over the past decade and question how music awards are run following the announcement of the 2021 Grammy nominations last week.
The start of a conversation... begins with Goulding expressing gratitude for "the life I have made through music, particularly at the moment when so many people in the industry are suffering in the immensely disruptive wake of Covid-19."
"I sit and wonder when the industry stopped reflecting the impulses that drive us as musicians," Goulding continues. "I sit and wonder when factors such as industry relationships, internal politics, and magazine covers started being rewarded before the music itself. I sit and wonder about the ways in which artists in other fields - fine art, dance, film - are identified and praised for their notable bodies of work, not because their notable bodies or working relationships."
Goulding goes on to highlight that "If both the most globally popular artists and most critically revered artists are not being recognised, how do we, as artists, go on? Would a runner start a race if they knew crossing the finish line first wouldn’t necessarily win them a gold medal?"
"When peers and friends get nominated for a major award, I am so, so happy to see them rewarded for their hard work and especially for their brilliant writing," Goulding continues. "From my perspective, there is nothing greater than listening to a song or an album that has saved you, inspired you, evoked deep emotion in some new sort of way… and then see it get the attention and award it deserves. At the same time, there is always a crushing, horrible feeling for my peers and friends who don’t get acknowledged, by the very same system, for their work year-after-year despite making music I and many others believe is ground-breaking."
"When this crushing feeling returns each year, I turn to my loyal fans. Through the love and relentless support of these fans, along with an enormous amount of luck, I have amassed what I see to be a notable body of work in this industry - in the form of many millions of album sales, many billions of streams, and three platinum albums and hopefully many more. But - while this gives me so much to be positive about and, so importantly to me, a platform to make change in this world - it still, apparently, does not qualify me, or my peers with the same reception, for formal recognition from my industry.
"So, my question to you, the music industry, is - and I ask this humbly to open a discussion - what constitutes the worthiness of an award? This is not rhetorical; I would love to know an answer," Goulding adds. "I would love to know if what I have done throughout my career, and what so many other artists have done throughout theirs, in receiving a certain level of critical reception, does not qualify for some sort of formal recognition, then what does?"
Goulding's piece also states, "Another big question here is not what, but who is it that decides this worthiness? There appears to be a greater lack of transparency in our industry’s process of award nominations and voting - maybe those who are privy to the process, are able to take advantage of it?" She adds, "I am writing this on behalf of artists and I am directing it at those with a control of the system. I am not, for one second, pointing a finger at any artists who have been nominated or won awards. I, and so many others, just want some transparency."
She goes on to send her "respect" to hard-working musicians and writers, and to "artists and creatives, who push on without a nod, wink or pat on the back", urging them to "keep going".
Before signing off, Goulding writes, "And at the same time, music industry, I say to you: it is time to have a bigger discussion about where we are going and how we acknowledge and reward those who are, frankly, the reason this industry exists in the first place."