The other night I saw the Grammy nominations and was ecstatic as my friend and former client Wale was nominated for Best Rap Song. As I scrolled through the nominees I noticed an unfamiliar name garnering a nomination in the EDM category: Al Walser. I wouldn't consider myself an EDM connoisseur but I am pretty familiar with the big names and up-and-comers. I assumed Al Walser was a super up-and-comer. Cut to: Yesterday morning I see multiple Facebook and blog posts about this guy with everyone wondering how he snagged a nomination.
Although I am not a voting member (despite being a manager of multi-platinum acts, I cannot vote but a music supervisor can), as a former Grammy board member, I've gotten an inside look at how the Grammy voting process works. While there are a number of measures in place to curb gaming, solicitations, etc., the process is very antiquated and highly editorialized, with much of the voting membership over the age of 40. What's more is that much of the voting membership don't work in the pop culture version of the music business on which the Grammys are really built. Many of them have amazing, respected legacies in the music business but aren't necessarily part of the zeitgeist. While the Motion Picture Academy is incredibly selective with their invites to be a voting member, the Grammys allow anyone with a minimum number of credits (I use that word loosely) to join for a fee.
With all that being said, I'm certain I figured out how Al Walser was able to secure himself a nomination.
That is a screen shot from Al's Grammy365 page. Grammy365 is the Grammy's social networking membership site. As you can see, Al has 104 pages of contacts ("friends") which equals roughly 4,160 contacts. It's unclear how many of those 4,160 contacts are voting members but there are around 10,000 voting members and reportedly 13,000 members total (so 3,000 non-voting members like me). So roughly 76 percent of members are voting members. Apply that to his 4,160 contacts and you have 3,200 voting members which is certainly enough to secure a lesser known category nomination. There are very few voting members who are in the EDM community since the genre is relatively new and only recently did it start getting mainstream attention. So a voting member, who likely has very little knowledge about EDM, scrolls through the nominees and more than likely votes for someone whose name they recognize, hence why Swedish House Mafia, Avicii, Calvin Harris and Skrillex got nominated. But if 3200 voting members are "friends" with someone on Grammy365 and chances are they will recognize the name of someone (Al Walser) who has friended them, messaged them and/or updated them, then chances are they will vote for that person. Also, none of the other EDM nominees are Grammy members except Skrillex. See Al's consistent Grammy 365 updates below.
My theory, in conclusion, is that Al Walser gamed the Grammy noms by trolling/spamming the Grammy365 website, much in the way bands used to game Myspace back in the day. I'm sure more information will come to light in the coming days/weeks but don't say I didn't call it.