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deadmau5 and Grammy representative respond to Al Walser's 'Best Dance Recording' nomination

00:00 Nov/30/1999

We composed a list of Grammy nominations of DJs whose actions we cover daily (you can browse the list here). There's one name, however, which we have never heard before - Al Walser. 'Best Dance Recording' is a category where EDM all-stars shine this year. 4 of the 5 nominated tracks are from Avicii, Calvin Harris, Skrillex and Swedish House Mafia. Although Walser claims to be a seasoned songwriter, producer and a DJ, we don't find him even among top 10,000 DJs in the world! So the question on everybody's minds is - what is Al Walser doing at the Grammy Awards and how he got there?

The answer to the first part of the question is: promoting himself and undermining the credibility of the perennial awards gala while he doing it. As elaborated in the Grammy nominations article:

'Academy members are required to vote based upon quality alone, and not to be influenced by sales, chart performance, personal friendships, regional preferences or company loyalty. The acceptance of gifts is prohibited. Members are urged to vote in a manner that preserves the integrity of the academy.'

So this rule should assure that the vote is based upon quality alone. The song was released in September 21 and the ballot was closed 9 days after, September 30. Listening to the track, watching the video (below) - one must ask: should this be something up there with productions from Avicii, Calvin Harris, Skrillex and Swedish House Mafia?

Watch the music video for the nominated track 'I Can't Live Without you'!

Another question arises when you learn that Walser has been a voting member of the Academy since 2006. Doesn't really back up the myth of objective awards, that the Academy has been trying to suggest. Walser doesn't even deny that he's been networking tirelessly to get his track recognized in the voting community of Academy.

From the interview below: "Thousands of people have been part of the process of my songs," he said. "I didn't know whether they were going to like it, but I knew they were part of the process. So probably when it came to ballot time they were very familiar with my name. There's nothing wrong with [that]. There's absolutely no way that you could somehow trick . . . and that's just outrageous, and people better be careful when they say that because it's totally unfounded. It really is. There's 50,000 people that vote. It's not a popularity contest, and it is what it is."

The news of this surprising nomination have spun numerous conspiracy theories, news, updates, interviews, opinions - an overall buzz about Al Walser. That's everything the man wanted when he started to commence his pre-planned marketing maneuver. It is clear, that this has been one of the most successful publicity stunts for an unknown artist in recent times. Walser is trying to come off as an independent artist whose running for a Grammy as an underdog. In his mind, this should be an inspirational story showing up and coming artists that everything's possible. Actually, what happens is that the Grammy Awards become less credible than before and Al Walser has his 15 minutes of fame. Perhaps he even gets his career under way. And we're all for upcoming DJs to make it in the big league. However, we're not sure if a prestigious award ceremony should promote something that is clearly of lesser quality than so much other work. What is annoying about the whole situation is the fact that an award ceremony which strives to be the best in judging the best, has let something like this slide even after investigating how Walser managed to be on the top 5 nominations.

The representative of Academy, Bill Freimuth had this to say: "The bottom line is he got the votes. That's the long and the short of it: people voted for him. We believe that he was a very active marketer of his work, and got his music out to lots and lots of our voting membership, and they chose to vote for it. The [Grammy] ballot gets a really thorough audit by our auditors at Deloitte — and they do find block voting and other kinds of anomalies every year and they do end up disqualifying ballots because of that. But they found nothing really anomalous or wrong with the votes surrounding this nomination."

And furthermore: "We don't have rules in place that prohibit that kind of lobbying ... the difficulties are that, first of all, we do want independent artists that may not have enormous marketing budgets to be able to make other voting members aware of their work, so for that reason, our rules are rather wide open."

Later he goes on saying that although it's hard to make rules for this, the reaction from the EDM community may give ground to consider making some adjustments so this kind of thing wouldn't happen again. In conclusion, I really hope that there's always going to be upcoming artists' work at the Grammy. But it should somehow be made certain, that the nominations really are based upon the creativity and quality of the end-product.

Interview with Al Walser on the EDM Network!

Obviously, deadmau5's had to respond to the whole ordeal. He is pretty tired of the thing so this is a somewhat uninspired rant, but gives a clue what a fellow nominee has on his mind.

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