As a musician, having a bio is incredibly important. It's your opportunity to make a great first impression, no matter what stage of your career you're in. Giving interviews, gaining fans, playing shows – these all require someone to take interest in you or your band. Coming across a band who don’t have a bio makes it difficult to gauge who the group is, and often times press and promoters will skip over the band if they don't have much to go on. Here are some tips on crafting a bio that will draw in fans, press, and venue promoters.
Give the need-to-know info right up front
You should think of your bio as an inverted pyramid, where vital information takes up the widest part at the top, while the tapering lower portion represents other content following in diminishing importance. People in general have short attention spans, so drawing them in with the most important information is key.
For instance, don't wait until the last sentence to state the names of your band members or where you're located. Some questions that should be answered immediately include:
What is your name?
Where are you from?
Who are your influences?
What sets you apart?
Try to be as specific as possible so that anyone reading the first couple of sentences of your bio will get a very clear picture of who you are as an artist or band.
Clearly define your sound
Sometimes defining genres can be tedious, but it’s important for a variety of reasons. Defining your sound helps venue promoters know which bands to place you with, and will also attract the types of fans who will truly care about your music. Even if you have a wide variety of musical influences, a vague, confusing description is not going to help you get gigs, press, or fans. If you're stuck, the tried-and-true method of If band X and band Y had a baby..." or any variation of that is a great place to start. By using references that people are already familiar with to explain your sound, they'll be much more inclined to give you a listen – even if just out of sheer curiosity.
Have short and long versions ready
Having bios of different lengths ready to go is essential, because the amount of information you need to provide will depend on the particular situation. For example, if you're sending a press request to a publication, you're not going to want to copy and paste your entire full-length bio in the email. The benefit of having a solid short bio is that it gives a more straightforward approach, giving journalists all the info they need about your band in a quick and easy format. Having a longer bio is crucial to set yourself apart from other bands and let people really get to know you as a group.
By using the inverted pyramid method described above, you'll be able to easily turn the first paragraph of your long bio into your short bio. As mentioned, the first paragraph of your bio should contain the essential information about your band and be able to stand on its own without any additional content. Information such as current projects and recently released material would fit well here. The following paragraphs should expand on important but nonessential information such accolades and recent successes (a tour across the country, performances at popular venues or festivals, winning a songwriting competition, a fully funded Kickstarter campaign, etc.). If you're fortunate enough to have quotes from the press or respected industry folks that put you in a good light, use them to grab the reader's attention and build credibility.
Keep in mind that while this is a bio about you as an artist or band, it must remain professional. This is used as a selling tool for your band, not an imaginative autobiography.
As your music career evolves, so should your bio. Remember to always keep it updated on your website and EPK with your latest projects and successes to show that you're active, growing, and serious about your career. Above all else, your bio should be straightforward, engaging, and positive. Doing so will make any promoter, journalist, or potential fan much less likely to skip over you.
Kathleen Parrish is a singer and songwriter from Seattle, WA. While she specializes in lyrics, she enjoys writing short stories, poetry, and journalism.