One of our most common requests at WikiCreators comes from musicians. This includes rappers, DJs, bands, singers, instrumentalists and everything else you can imagine related to music and the music industry. How do you know if you are notable enough for Wikipedia?
It’s also one of our most common denials in terms of notability.
When it comes to music, the rise of the Internet has provided nearly everyone an opportunity to get their music out to the people. And surrounding this phenomenon are countless blogs, promotion sites, discussion boards, social media sites, forums and more.
Wikipedia has addressed this question as well with their own page regarding whether or not a musician is notable enough for Wikipedia. It explains the issue quite well, but we’ll summarize for those of you in a hurry.
Not notable enough for Wikipedia
Sources referring to the musician or band are trivial. This means they are legitimate sources, i.e., a newspaper or magazine, but they don’t report on anything of substance about the subject other than, for example, a show date, time and place. In other words, sources about the musician must have some information about the musician and their music.
Press releases are not a good source as they are usually written by the musician or someone associated with them. Same goes for any advertising materials. Blogs are not considered a good source, generally—though they can be used if it is a high-quality blog with a longstanding reputation.
School newspapers are not generally considered a good source. Social media is not a good source, nor are forums or message boards.
To summarize, if you or your band have been playing some shows and the local newspapers are listing your shows and your friend wrote about you in his blog, that won’t pass notability. None of these are good sources.
Definitely notable enough for Wikipedia
Certain achievements or accolades basically guarantee notability. This includes having been nominated or won a major musical award like a Grammy, Juno or Mercury Award for example. If a song or album has made it on a national music chart, if an album has been certified gold or if the band or musician has won any major musical award, notability is accepted.
If the musician or band is being carried by a major label (or one of the more established Indie labels) and released at least two albums with that label, notability is guaranteed. If a song by the musician has been placed into regular rotation on a radio station or group of radio stations, that will go a long way in terms of notability.
In terms of press and coverage, Wikipedia’s normal criteria for notability apply. Is the coverage substantial? Is the source respected and reliable? Is there a wide variety of sources? To what degree is this musician or band covered in the sources? Is it a featured article or broadcast? It certainly helps to be featured. Is it a passing mention along with several other musicians? That’s probably not good enough. These all play into an editor’s decision.
It might be best to think of it like this: If you want to get on to Wikipedia because very few people have heard of you and you think Wikipedia will help, that probably means you’re not notable enough. If a lot of people have heard of you, and you’re at a point in your career where having a Wikipedia page would be cool, but won’t make or break you, that’s a good sign.
Clearly, there is some ambiguity there. Is a local alt-weekly a good source? Maybe. How about a blog that has been around for several years? Again, maybe. Are three independent sources enough? It depends.
If you’ve read this and you’re still on the fence, it’s best to consult us as our experts have a much better idea if something will pass notability or not, just by virtue of experience.
But chances are, if you read this and couldn’t really latch on to any of the requirements for notability, you might want to get back out there and keep working at your music before thinking about Wikipedia again. If that’s discouraging, think about this: if you DO ever make it onto Wikipedia, you’ll know it matters, because it’s not easy, especially for artists and musicians.