Memo To Marketers: Web 2.0 Needs Your Help

Web 2.0 has hundreds of sites to help artists collaborate. Sites like Indaba and WeBooks host communities where artists can connect and work on creating music or writing the next great American novel. But without some marketing they're going nowhere.

Indaba was launched in 2007 and by early 2009 had grown to over 125,000 musicians. Indaba has been particularly successful with re-mix contests with artists including Mariah Carey, Yo-Yo Ma and Third Eye Blind.

WeBook was described in a recent Times article as “a venture-backed start-up in New York, that allows people to collaborate on writing books and is working on new ways to let readers give writers real-time feedback on their work.” Authors from over 170 countries have written, reviewed, and voted for hundreds of works of fiction, non-fiction and poetry on the site.

Despite the best efforts of these companies to help create the next generation of masterpieces, it appears that very few well-known works have come out of these ventures. Of course, these companies are relatively young, and time could be an issue. But I can’t help but think there is another issue at play: these companies focus only on the creation of work, not the marketing of it. An artistic creation may be brilliant, but it is not going to be noticed, have any impact, or make any money, if it is not marketed correctly.

Just consider Joshua Bell's example. As conveyed in Gene Weingarten’s terrific article in the Washington Post, Bell showed that even virtuoso violinist can play some of the most elegant pieces ever written on a $3.5 million dollar Stradivarius in a busy metro station in front of more than 1,000 commuters and hardly get noticed. Bell played for 43 minutes and only 7 people stopped to listen. Moreover, not counting $20 donated by a woman who recognized Bell, only 27 people together gave him a grand total of $32.17. Three days earlier he had sold out Boston’s Symphony Hall.

If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? To make the next big thought leap with this old adage, artistically driven Web 2.0 communities are going to have to start help their members broadcast their work more effectively if they wish to survive.

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