Friday, December 08, 2006

Research and Marketing Using Wikipedia

Much has been written lately about the evils of Wikipedia, but many of the things that make it evil also make it useful. Because it can be edited by anyone, Wikipedia is particularly subject to both accidentally and purposefully bad information (yes, there are folks out there who purposefully wreck articles). Yet, that same openness means that it can be corrected by anyone (see Kyle Gann’s work on the Conlon Nancarrow entry, for example), and that people can start entries on any topic they wish. What this means to someone involved in the music business is that Wikipedia is a place where one can provide as well as gather information on topics near-and-dear to one’s heart. The more you provide value — quality information — the more value you get back. Information is a marketing tool, as much as it is an educational tool. The three things I find strongest about Wikipedia, and therefore use the most, are a) the ability to post information, especially new information, such as musical groups; b) the ability to link to other articles and to outside pages; and c) information on musical genres.

Posting an entry and linking it to other entries creates an instant marketing network. As information changes, you can update the article and its links. For example, if you find yourself with a new lead singer who has sung in many other bands, it’s quite easy to add that new singer into the entry on your band, link him to a new entry entirely about him, which has links to all the other bands he’s been in. Fans of those other bands will find their way to the entry on your band. It’s like Myspace but without the ugly design.

After you link to other groups, you can associate yourself with the many musical genre names that have been thrown around by music journalists since the dawn of music criticism. Or, perhaps you are a music journalist and want to define a new musical genre. Because it’s always being updated, Wikipedia is the go-to source for information of this kind. Can’t tell the difference between Wonky and Gabba? Math rock and Mathcore? Shoegazing and Dream pop? Now you can find out.

Whenever you create new entries, be sure to include resources: links to articles (periodicals) and books not written by you. This gives the entry credibility and keeps it from being removed.

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