All artists need a great bio. It’s the first stop for fans and the press to get an overview of your project, and a glimpse into the purpose, philosophy and origins of your band. A bio can be fairly basic description of who you are, where you come from, and what genre of music you most identify with, but it is also a promotional opportunity to tell a unique story. The problem is, musicians often have to write their own bios when starting out. This can be extremely difficult, as anyone who’s written a CV will know. Many musicians feel that a bio forces you to, justify and promote your musical output in a way that can be uncomfortable. You need to strike a good balance between sounding like an exciting new band, but not blowing your own trumpet too much.
What can you do to try and write a clear, snappy bio? Here are some dos and don’ts to get you started:
- Don’t ignore your bio completely. If you don’t give any information on your online platforms about your band, people will be confused. There may be journalists who want to run a story about your band or feature your songs on their radio show, TV show, playlist, etc., but don’t know what to say about you. Give them some text, so that they can help promote you.
- Don’t use a ‘one size fits all’ approach. Sometimes promoters or industry professionals will just need a paragraph or a sentence that explains who you are or what your music sounds like. Alternatively, a festival programmer or an interviewer might want a whole article about your career so far. If you have one bio that you simply copy and paste for every occasion, you will annoy everyone. It’s a good idea to write a full length one (around 500 words, but this can vary!) and then use extracts from it for different purposes. You might also want to slightly reword things, depending what kind of publication is featuring you, or what the bio is being used for. It’s definitely good to have a standard story about your band, but occasionally you might need to make subtle alterations to fit the job. Don’t be afraid to do this.
- Don’t include irrelevant information or descriptions. This is a very difficult and subtle task, as you do of course have to share some information in a bio. However, you don’t need to list every school you went to, the details of your first gig, etc. Try to put yourself into another person’s shoes, and pick out what is really interesting and crucial about the journey that bought you to the point you’re at now. In terms of sound, it’s useful to be able to place yourself within some generic categories, but you don’t need to go into long and extravagant descriptions of your music – it’s up to the listener to decide what they think of it. It’s very easy to start sounding a bit corny if you try to use too many adjectives to capture your own sound in words.
- Present the facts. Are you releasing a new single, EP, or your first album? Let people know where you are in terms of your band’s development and career. People want to know about your exciting news and future plans. Are there any special features about this release, this moment, this tour, this band line-up, etc.? If so, tell these stories! It’s good to include a touch of humour, character or mystery in your writing style, so that you’re giving the crucial information without just listing the facts in a boring way.
- Create or reveal some personality. Who are you, who’s in your band? How did you meet, how did you start making music? Give a little bit of personal information about the characters involved, and not just the obvious things. Try to share something unusual, show people that this is a special project. This part of your bio doesn’t have to be strictly true, either. You can be fanciful, as music is a form of art after all. Your story does have to fit you though. You can’t make up outrageous lies about your crazy past and then sit quietly on stage singing songs in jeans and a sweater. You need to be convincing, and make your artistic image your own. If it’s too obviously a complete lie or a gimmick, it won’t have the desired effect!
- You can always ask a friend to write your bio. Sometimes this is the best way of getting a good, non-biased text. If you have any friends who are journalists, writers, or music enthusiasts, ask them to give it a shot. You can always edit it afterwards, but it can be extremely helpful to have an outsider’s perspective. Alternatively, you can write the first draft and give it to one of these people to proofread. Either way, it’s good to ask for help if you need it. See our previous post on what to do and what to delegate for more tips on dealing with the (sometimes overwhelming) amount of administrative tasks facing the modern musician.
Try reading some of your favourite bands’ bios for inspiration. If you check what people are doing who have reached a certain level of success, you should be able to gage what works for them, and what makes them look good on paper!
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