In 1998, The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences created a new category for their yearly Grammy Awards: Best Dance Recording. Throughout its lifespan, the award has gone primarily to pop stars, from two-time winner Justin Timberlake to Lady Gaga; However, this year, the nominee list reads more like a multi-million dollar festival lineup - with one exception:
Al Walser's "I Can't Live Without You," nominated amongst company such as "Don't You Worry Child" and "Levels," appeared to dance music fans and Grammy followers alike to be some sort of elaborate hoax, some troll of the awards. But after further investigation, Bill Freimuth, Vice President of Awards at the Recording Academy, told the Huffington Post, "He [Walser] didn't do anything untoward or against our rules in any way ... people voted for him, and he got a nomination as a result."
How, then, did Walser rally legitimate support for his sub-par track? The answer appears to lie in Grammy365, a private social network for Recording Academy members, where any musician or industry professional can join and speak openly with Grammy voting members. A voting member himself, Walser befriended as many of his peers as he could, estimated by a former Grammy board member to total over a third of the voting body, and bombarded them with promotional materials for his single.
As a result, the same hype tactics which allowed Walser to build his company, Cut the Bull Entertainment, and market his "Secret Path to Break In Today's Music Industry" succeeded in convincing voters that he stood in the same league as his fellow nominees. After the news broke, unpersuaded press and EDM fans soon reacted by presenting a flurry of theories to explain Walser's success. Some assumed that there were just a low number of votes cast on Best Dance Recording, while others asserted claims of a general EDM ignorance among older voters, but Freimuth is convinced such ideas are unfounded: "There were enough voters who not only didn't mind receiving communiques from Al," he said. "But also thought his music was worthy of their vote."
Regardless of how Walser got his name on the Grammy nominee list, he seems to have worked for it and he certainly got what he wanted: free PR (just like I am giving him now). Maybe not the best press, but "I Can't Live Without You" gained hundreds of thousands of views on Youtube and Walser's name is enjoying its 15 seconds of fame. So even when Avicii or Swedish House Mafia wal away with their Grammy, Walser will still be smiling.
Read more about what Freimuth and the Recording Academy had to say via the Huffington Post.