Music’s Definitive Encyclopedia in the Digital Age: An Ethnographic Study of AllMusic.com

Music’s Definitive Encyclopedia in the Digital Age: An Ethnographic Study of AllMusic.com

This research will focus on an ethnographic study of the history and influence of AllMusic. AllMusic began as a music encyclopedia and transformed into an online database of artists, albums and reviews. The historical significance of such a site to the music industry is vast, and because of AllMusic’s longevity and multiple forms and outlets, it has had an interesting impact on musicians and fans alike. Personally, I have been an avid reader of AllMusic since I was a teenager, and have seen it undergo several changes and implementations, so I’m hopeful that my personal memory and experience will aid in my study. I plan to cover as much historical ground as possible in my ethnographic study, and while it won’t be possible to do an ethnographic study of users of the website, I do hope to connect with regular site contributors in some manner. Perhaps to gain an oral history, or to understand the significance of their contributions on a more personal level. I believe AllMusic is relevant due to its many digital iterations – despite undergoing operational and functional changes, the catalog continued to grow and content continues to be produced, often by many of the original contributors. This kind of evolution isn’t often seen in Internet history, and the fact that AllMusic has continued to evolve, adapt and grow despite the changing face of technology is rather incredible.

I plan to cover a basic chronological history of AllMusic, and provide an understanding of their use and evolution in a digital space. I will also explore personal histories of primary contributors to the site, and hopefully speak to some of them to gather interviews of their experiences. Additionally, I’d like to explore how these particular critics use other digital spaces to continue interactions with the music community, as many of them have their own websites, blogs or Facebook pages separate from their AllMusic reviews and work. If there is ample time, I may also explore similar digital spaces to see how they “stack up” against AllMusic and if there are any comparable digital databases/encyclopedias like it that still exist. Overall, I plan to lay out a comprehensive history of AllMusic’s digital presence and contributions, how they have used a digital space to their advantage, their evolutions in an ever changing digital space and if/how it has been successful for them, and how they continue to contribute to the music industry with their presence.

My intention currently is to submit a research paper, and for my in-class presentation I will do a reading of the paper with multimedia aides.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License