HOW TO WRITE A MUSICIANS BIO – YOUR GUIDE TO A GREAT BIOGRAPHY
A good biography is one of the most important tools a musician can have in his arsenal – it can be the defining factor for full page articles and a gateway for interviews, it can book you gigs and get you better slots – so why are there so many bad ones?
We’ve listed a few things to help you ensure your musicians bio is stellar, no more underselling yourself – lets get your message across loud and clear!
First things first – Make your bio ‘Skimmable’
Remember who you are writing for – journalists, investors, managers and booking agents have busy schedules, they don’t have time to wade through five pages of badly organised information. Your bio needs to answer 3 basic questions:
- Who are you?
- What do you do?
- What makes you interesting/ worthwhile?
You’re lucky if someone reads past the first paragraph so you need to make your information ‘skimmable’.
Content should be easy to navigate
The first paragraph is the most important, it’s basically a summary of all the information your bio contains, it needs to grab attention and lay down the foundation for the rest of your bio – it needs to be excellent. A tip to a great first paragraph is actually writing it last, that way you’ll have all the information neatly arranged so you can just pick out the good parts.
Follow a logical order
Your first few paragraphs need to talk about your past – The beginning of your career, how you became a musician, previous albums, influences and achievements relating to your music.
The next few paragraphs need to talk about the present – Where you are TODAY, your recent achievements, recently released/ upcoming albums and anything relevant to what you are currently doing.
The last paragraphs should be allocated for your future – Anything in the pipe lines, tours, major events and any other projects you may be gearing up for. Be careful here, no one can predict the future so only talk about things you are working on – not things you might work on.
Dedicate a page at the end of your bio to list any major gigs/ festivals you have performed and the year you performed in. It should also have links to any press, music videos, links to your music and media – This makes it easy for anyone who needs to quickly navigate and relay your information as it follows a logical order.
Utilize headlines and sub-headings
The easier your information is to navigate, the easier it is to write about, making your band more likely to get that full page spread – A journalist at crunch time does not have the patience to read every piece of badly arranged information before putting together a coherent story.
Sub headings are a great way to let someone instantly find the information they’re looking for. Use one for every new phase of your story: “The Beginning – How we all came together” “Tomorrow – What the future brings” etc.
These are pretty generic, it’s up to you write your own, but you catch my drift.
Keep it honest and simple
You don’t need to talk yourself up, you just need to talk about you – If you have nothing to talk about as an individual artist or band, you need to address that instantly. Go out on the front lines, gig as much as you can, take opportunities – give people the means to talk about you.
You don’t need to mention bands you’ve shared stages with, unless they’re the Rolling Stones. You don’t need to elaborate on how great your music is and how you’re the next big thing – frankly that’s what everyone says. Remember you are the main act in your bio, not the band you shared a stage with two years ago.
Describe your music (Original music)
This is one of the hardest things to do, it is also one of the most important – You need to pitch your music honestly, and that means instead of trying to convince someone to like you, let the reader decide for themselves.
Music reviews are a great source of non-bias information. Utilise quotes from reviews you have received to give the reader a better understanding of what you do.
If you haven’t been reviewed yet, you’ll need to describe your music to the reader, this can prove difficult sometimes. Try answer 3 main questions:
- What genre is it?
- What does your music sound like? – What does the guitar sound like? Are the drums loud? Is your music riff based/ jazz orientated / melody driven? Do you utilize harmonies? What type of melodies do you incorporate? Really work on properly describing your sound.
- What is your band/individual personality? Is your music solemn or up-beat, are you serious or fun-loving?
You may think you’ve already done this, but “A revolutionary mix of in-your-face drums, loud guitars and punchy vocals” does not say anything. I still don’t know how you sound, neither does the reader, and the barrage of cliché’s you’ve assaulted our eyes with means were not going to go out of our way to find out.
Properly describing your sound means that the reader can make their own decision about you, your description might interest them enough to listen to your band or give them enough information to know that your music is not what they’re looking for, either way, the choice was theirs.
Make it personal and interesting
Often, the people reading your bio haven’t heard or met you. What is the first impression you’d like to leave with them? Your bio needs to properly advocate your / your bands personality. The reader needs to get your “vibe” through your bio, so you need to make sure the language and wording you use properly sets the tone.
Use quotes from band members, share something deep, something that shaped you, a funny story or something you find important. Never be afraid to get personal, your bio should contain things we can’t just find in a google search, so keep that in mind when writing.
The content counts, not the length
Be articulate and keep it concise. Try not to waffle on, the content of your bio is what counts, not the length.
Lastly, pay attention to detail
By now your beautifully worded biography may put Hemingway to shame, but there are a few more things you need to think of before hitting “send.”
- Is your bio easy-to-read?
Get creative with the content, not the font. The point is to make this as easy-to-read as possible, so using the font “Frankenstein’s monster II” in lime green is going to do more damage than good. Stick to a simple font, reasonable line-spacing and a legible colour.
- Can you copy and paste it?
Make sure your bio can be copy-and-pasted, people may want to use quotes and follow links you have added to your bio. If you’ve saved your bio as a jpeg – again, you will do more damage than good.
- Attach good photos
We want to see what you look like, attach photos of you/your band, just make sure the photo’s you attach are of a decent quality and are taken by professional photographers.
One more thing…
We’ve laid out a few ideas and options for you to get started on your bio, but it’s up to you to get creative. These suggestions are by no means set in stone, it’s up to you to represent your cause best in your biography so feel free to use and discard any of this information.
Good luck and happy writing!