Ellie Goulding calls for “transparency” in music awards with new op-ed

"I sit and wonder when the industry stopped reflecting the impulses that drive us as musicians"

Ellie Goulding has taken to Medium to deliver an op-ed questioning the process behind music awards, and calling for transparency in how the winners are chosen.

Titled ‘The start of a conversation…’, Goulding began her op-ed by sharing her gratitude for her career, especially in the midst of the pandemic, before turning her attention to the industry which she said “saddens” her.

“I sit and wonder when the industry stopped reflecting the impulses that drive us as musicians,” she wrote.


“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 (of) their notable bodies or working relationships.”

“In most artistic fields, awards seem to come off the back of great critical acclaim, but in today’s music industry such ‘acclaim’ can have varied sources,” she continued.

“People are being awarded – in the form of both nominations and category wins – for reasons that are hard to decipher. If both the most globally popular artists and most critically revered artists are not being recognised, how do we, as artists, go on?”

She then listed off her accomplishments as an artist – “many millions of album sales, many billions of streams, and three platinum albums” – before saying that it still doesn’t qualify her “for formal recognition from my industry”.

Goulding went on to ask the industry “what constitutes the worthiness of an award?” and “who is it that decides that worthiness?”. After saying that she wasn’t directing her op-ed at artists who have won or have been nominated for awards, she said, “I, and so many others, just want some transparency.”


She closed the op-ed by saying, “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”.

The op-ed comes the week following the announcement of the 2021 Grammy nominations, and the subsequent criticism of the Recording Academy for major snubs – namely The Weeknd, who received zero nominations for his album ‘After Hours’ and his song ‘Blinding Lights’, which was the most streamed song of 2020 on Spotify.

“You owe me, my fans and the industry transparency,” The Weeknd said, also saying that the Grammys “remain corrupt”.

Drake, who is actually up for three Grammy awards, said that “we should stop allowing ourselves to be shocked” when it came to The Weeknd’s snub, also shouting out Lil Baby, Pop Smoke, Popcaan and PARTYNEXTDOOR.

Halsey went on to enlighten fans about what can happen behind the scenes that can influence Grammy nominations, saying “The Weeknd deserved better, and ‘Manic’ (her album) did too”.

Teyana Taylor, who this year released her latest album ‘The Album’, criticised the lack of female representation in the ‘Best R&B Album’ category.

“Y’all was better off just saying best MALE R&B ALBUM cause all I see is dick in this category,” she tweeted.

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