The 8th annual mtvU Woodie Awards will take over the South by Southwest (SXSW) music conference in Austin, Texas, today. For the first time, mtvU has teamed up with SXSW to bring music lovers a live awards show complete with performances by nominees.

According to Eric Conte, the 2012 executive producer of the mtvU Woodie Awards, the name stems from a tradition that started at a record label where the label would try and recognize artists who were putting out “amazing records.” As an informal way of thanking performers on the label who hadn’t gone gold or platinum, they were given a “wood” rating instead.

Instead of a stuffy award show, mtvU is the premiere event in the up-and-coming music scene. The Woodies is an annual awards show that represents the voice and opinion of more than just judges. Anyone can vote for the nominee they believe should win each Woodie.

Airing on MTV on Sunday at 8 p.m., the Woodie Awards is “a musical moment of truth honoring the artists who are infiltrating the music landscape,” according to the mtvU website.

This year, there will be a new category added to the list of awards. Woodie of the Year, Breaking Woodie and Best Video Woodie will all be awarded as usual, but there will also be a new Woodie up for grabs: EDM Effect Woodie. This Woodie was added to the list in an effort to recognize artists who are bringing a new fan base to electronic dance music.

“It would have been irresponsible not to; [EDM] is huge right now. For us to not acknowledge it…would be a huge mistake for us,” Conte said of mtvU’s decision to add the award.

The nominees include Avicii, Benny Benassi and Martin Solveig. Included in the list is Steve Aoki, nominated for “Turbulence,” a song he worked on with Laidback Luke and Lil Jon.

“The state of EDM in America is bubbling. We’re at a really interesting time for EDM — popular culture is now seeing it,” Aoki said. “It’s just a start, the dance floor has been around for a very long time.”

Also nominated for a Woodie is Best Coast. The indie-rock band from California is nominated for Best Video Woodie of the Year.

Best Coast’s video “Our Deal” is up against other acts like M83 and Gotye for the award. The video was directed by Drew Barrymore. Best Coast lead singer Bethany Cosentino credits Barrymore with almost all aspects of the video from conceptualization to execution.

“I just thought that it really sounded like a beautiful story that fit with a beautiful song,” Cosentino said.

The music video is a cinematic experience that features great pop culture references, including “Romeo and Juliet,” “The Outsiders” and “West Side Story.” Cosentino says she enjoyed these smart references, and they played a part in why she agreed to Barrymore’s vision so easily, though she also said that the heartbreaking ending to the music video did surprise her.

“It was amazing to work with Drew and to have this video be recognized by so many people. To now be nominated is a really awesome opportunity. I’m planning my acceptance speech in my free time,” she said.

Ohio natives Walk the Moon are nominated for what is possibly the biggest Woodie Award, the Breaking Woodie Award. This Woodie is awarded to the best emerging artist of the year. They face some steep competition, with 21 other nominees who include Lana Del Rey, The Weeknd, Fake Problems, A$AP Rocky and Porter Robinson.

“We kind of feel like we are the underdogs in the category for sure. There are so many bigger artists in there, so we’re pretty honored to be a part of the group,” said Nicholas Petricca, lead singer of Walk the Moon. 

Walk the Moon is currently touring with Young the Giant, but Petricca said the band is excited to attend the awards show at SXSW. They will also be performing at the festival, which he regarded as “summer camp for adults” for the second year in a row. 

“Vote, even if it’s not for us. Vote for people,” Petricca urged.

For more information, or to vote, visit