Ellie Goulding Questions the 'Worthiness of an Award' in Powerful Essay on the State of the Music Industry

Ellie Goulding
Nathan Jenkins

Ellie Goulding

Though Ellie Goulding has had millions of streams on songs like "Hate Me," "Close to Me" and "Burn," among many others, the star has only ever been nominated for one Grammy Award (a pop solo performance nod in 2016 for "Love Me Like You Do").

The singer pondered the state of the music industry, and how award shows undermine the hard work of artists in a lengthy new essay published on Wednesday (Dec. 2). "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," she explained. "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," she continued. "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."

Goulding then posed the question, "what constitutes the worthiness of an award?"

"This is not rhetorical; I would love to know an answer," she added. "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?"

While she didn't call out the Recording Academy specifically, she demanded "transparency in our industries process of award nominations and voting."

"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," she concluded, adding a final, "Back to the studio."

Read the full essay here.