End of The Record
Back in 2021 I interned with Wikimedia Australia and noticed some of my favourite bands and record labels didn't have pages on Wikipedia.
That's when we decided to run a small project to get more Australian music onto Wikipedia, but the idea quickly grew.
Thanks to Wikimedia Australia's Caddie Brain, the Australia Council for the Arts heard what we wanted to do and gave us funding to run The Record: Australian Music On Wikipedia, initially as a pilot and eventually extending it until June 2023.
Overall we created over 100 new Wikipedia articles and showed more than 70 people how to edit and contribute to Wikipedia themselves.
The Pilot: Dec 2021-June 2022
Beginning with an in-person event during Melbourne Music Week in 2021, we ran a total of four edit-a-thon's to show people how to edit Wikipedia and create new Wikipedia articles about Australian music.
Two were in-person in Melbourne and Geelong, and two were held online and attended by people across the country.
Each event was introduced by a guest speaker, before we showed how to edit Wikipedia and worked from a list of articles to create or improve.
To make sure we covered a broad range of musical genres, each event had a theme, with country music, art and experimental music, and musicians from Geelong all given our attention.
Across these four events 39 participants learnt how to edit Wikipedia and assisted in the creation of 22 new Wikipedia articles and improved an additional 59.
More articles were created outside of the events, with a total of 50 new Wikipedia articles created during this period.
The Extension: July 2022-June 2023
After the success of The Pilot, we were given additional funding to extend the project another year and ran more in-person events as well as two residencies.
The first Wikimedian in Resident was me, and was hosted at the Australian Music Vault and Australian Performing Arts Collection.
New Wikipedia pages were added and improved thanks to being given access to their collections. You can read more about it here.
The second resident was Bianca Valentino hosted at the State Library of Queensland.
This residency had a focus on First Nations music and musicians. You can read more about it here.
We also hosted an information session on how culturally diverse communities are using Wikipedia, with guests from Australia, New Zealand, and Nigeria, that has since been watched over 90 times on YouTube.
Finally, we ran more editing events to create and improve Wikipedia articles about Australian music.
One was run online, while two more were run in-person, in Brisbane and Sydney.
This time we had a greater focus on improving existing Wikipedia articles and 34 participants learnt how to edit Wikipedia, created 11 new Wikipedia articles, and improved an additional 163.
In total, our events had 73 people contribute, 33 articles created, 222 articles edited, and 36 images uploaded, plus additional Wikipedia articles were created by participants outside of the events making a total of 101 counted.
We showed people how to use Wikipedia, but also highlighted the gaps in our media, such as the lack of long-term Australian music press in Australia, and the limited access to read them.
Because Wikipedia articles need references to prove someone is notable, we commissioned four music journalists to write new long form articles about underrepresented or emerging Australian artists.
These articles were published online and in print, and will hopefully serve as references on Wikipedia in the future.
- Silent Jay by Will Brewster - Published by Australian Music Vault.
- Lady Lash by Rhianna Patrick - Published by Australian Music Vault.
- Red Dust & Salt Water - Nola Lauch talks about her Jalgany project by Sosefina Fuamoli - Published in Rhythms magazine, Issue 312 July/Aug 2022, p48
- The pioneering women of Australian music media by Liz Giuffre - Published in The Music (Scheduled for September 2023)
The 101 Wikipedia articles created as part of The Record project amassed 91,413 views between December 2021 and June 2023. Of those, 26 articles gained over 1,000 views, including 13 that gained over 2,000 views.
The top 10 most viewed during this period were Divide and Dissolve (11,168), Amanda Villepastour (7,139), Ken West (4,441), Carla dal Forno (4,216), Tijuana Cartel (3,976), Roza Terenzi (3,883), Spinifex Gum (3,825), Cable Ties (3,597), Dobe Newton (2,692), and Cry Club (2,654).
The project increased Australian music content available online and helped people understand the gaps in information available on Australian music, especially online.
What worked and what didn't
Although we met our goal to create lots of new Wikipedia articles, we quickly realised it was unrealistic to have first time editors create new articles in one day.
Some of the articles created at our first events were marked for deletion or moved to draft as they needed additional work.
Myself and other volunteers worked to improve these and were able to save them after some rewrites and adding extra information and references to meet the notability criteria.
This highlighted the need for us to rethink events around new article creation and possibly run them as multi-week or regular drop-in sessions, as getting new users to create a Wikipedia article in one day can be unrealistic.
Finding references could also be a bit of a problem for our online events, as Australia's music history hasn't been digitised or preserved very well, so it's often unaccessible unless you visit a state library and know exactly what you're looking for.
This simply meant we focused on subjects we could find references for, but also highlighted the usefulness of hosting residencies at institutions with archives that can be tapped into like the two we ran.
On a more positive note, we did find people were very interested to learn about how Wikipedia worked and it made people think about how Australian music history is being presented to the world.
The Record ends
There has been enormous enthusiasm about The Record project, and I'd like to thank everyone who joined and supported this project.
Thank you to Rubii Red for our logo, and of course our partners Australia Council for the Arts, Australian Music Vault, Australian Performing Arts Collection, Australian Music Centre, Country Music Association of Australia, APRA AMCOS, City of Greater Geelong, Geelong Library & Heritage Centre, Jaxsta, State Library of Queensland, 2SER FM, and all of the individuals who supported us along the way.
If you're interested to learn more about this project see our project page: The Record: Australian Music On Wikipedia.