Lately I’ve been working on building a Wikipedia page for a client, it’s my first one and I’ve been at it for a few days now. It’s a strenuous process and one I’m not entirely sure that I like. It certainly isn’t for everyone – it requires a tenacity that I rarely have to tap in to. I’ve been grinding away at the subject pretty hard this week and having none too easy a time doing it. Wikipedia has posed a unique challenge for me because it represents one of those things I have always tried to avoid – light programming language. And though the Wikipedia cheat sheet is pretty darn helpful and they feature some JavaScript plug ins to make the process easier, that doesn’t help the fact that making Wikipedia pages can be utterly brutal.

For example, one of the things I had to set up for this particular client was a table with the awards he has won and been nominated for. After an hour or two of filling out the table, making sure everything would be color coded and non stop googling I clicked the ominous ‘preview’ button only to find that all of my tables were out of wack. It was like the school project from hell. I was eventually able to correct this, but it just illustrates the fact that making a Wikipedia page is not a very smooth or encouraging process.

Now, before we really dig into this, I want to make one thing absolutely clear. Under no circumstances should you create your own Wikipedia page for you or our band. People have done it and gotten away with it, but it’s rare and rarely worth the hassle of grinding it all out only to be turned down. The Wikipedia editors can pretty easily tell when you’re using the page for self promotion (After all – Wikipedia is a GREAT tool for that) and they WILL shut you down. It makes sense after all – it would totally devalue the ethos that the site was founded on. However, paying someone to do the job for you is always going to be a good idea, not just because then you can ensure it will be well written, but professionals can make sure that it actually gets published.

Wikipedia pages do raise your profile significantly by the way. While most of the big labels probably wouldn’t care to admit it, I can fairly confidently say that they have people setting up pages for them. Meeting the notability requirements is the easy part – as long as you have a record out and a handful of reviews it’s pretty easy to take care of that sort of thing. It allows you to grow your brand in a healthy, friendly and organic way. And after all – giving money to a local writer is always a good thing in my book (Please hire me to write for you, I am so poor)

The cost of a Wikipedia page (It usually runs around $150) is totally justified by the way. We talk a lot about the importance of constructing a narrative on this blog and getting a Wikipedia page will make you look a lot more professional. Wikipedia has come to adopt a weird place in the cultural landscape – it’s become a sort of fount of all knowledge and definitive in a way that no other publication has ever reached. So being a part of its legacy is obviously an enviable position, it makes you a part of something greater than yourself and shows that you or your band belong to the human condition. If you don’t want that to be a part of your brand, I don’t know why you’re reading this blog.

In a way getting a Wikipedia page is sort of a narrative for every other service in the music industry. It’s something that technically you can do on your own but which you probably should pay for – especially given its massive potential outreach. So yeah, you should NEVER quote your Wikipedia page for a press release, but you can still rest easy in the knowledge that fans will be directed to it simply by googling your name. Many a music advice site will tell you to register your band pretty much anywhere and everywhere that you can – and this is good advice. Few of them though advise shelling out for a Wikipedia page – but if you think you’re worth it then do it. You’ll know this somewhat instinctively too – if you’re ready to dump the $150 into it (Or however much it ends up costing) then you’ve probably got enough going on with your music to pass the notability requirements.




Before I wrap up I just want to add in a quick side note – there are some genre specific wikisites, the excellent Encyclopedia Metallum is the first example that leaps to mind. Sites like those are really great and often rather useful to be a part of, but DON’T pay for those. Those are usually layman driven and in all honesty with the vast majority of them it wouldn’t be untoward to set up your own page as long as you adhere to those traditional Wiki ideals of impartial and well referenced material. The entry requirements to those are much lower and you shouldn’t be afraid to take advantage of that.

So I sit here in a pop punk bands van writing advice about one of the next important steps in your career. This is the kind of thing that needs to come after a good PR campaign but hopefully before a major tour. Even if you can’t get the timing down that’s fine. Ultimately – Wikipedia is a great PR resource and you can’t avoid joining up with it after a point, it’s part of the power of the site. If you want people to immediately take you seriously and to embrace what you are a part of then you almost have no other choice than to buckle down, pay up and move everything forward in one of the best ways that I know how.