In my capacity as a CD reviewer I get way too many bios that are nothing more than a weak collection of bland superlatives. If your bio is stinking up the place, use the guidelines below and write a new one. If you’d rather play music than write about yourself, contact me. I’ll write you a bio that won’t require readers to mainline Red Bull.
Grab them with the first paragraph
It should creatively and concisely give the reader an idea of your style. Don’t start with “She’s played the piano since she was 3.” The most interesting information should be first. Here’s how I started one bio:
Debra Cowan was once asked what kind of songs she writes. Her reply? “Bad ones.” Her captivating warm alto carries each traditional and contemporary folk song she chooses with such emotion, that you’ll forget that they were written by others.
Who do you sound like?
We all hate answering this question, but it gives the reader a place to start. Ask your friends and fans for suggestions. Be creative and don’t be afraid to combine styles. Do you sound like Maroon 5 fronted by Cyndi Lauper? Old school R&B mixed with metal?
Who are your influences?
A laundry list of favorite artists is coma-inducing. Take a different approach. Did you listen to your grandmother’s Pat Boone collection? Your cousin’s Nirvana albums? Did you see Dolly Parton on TV when you were five and decide that’s what you wanted to do?
What is something quirky about you?
Journalists and fans love a good story. It doesn’t have to be music related. I once wrote a bio for an Americana artist who was a distant relative of Jesse James so of course, I used that. Do you have any famous relations? Can you juggle chainsaws? Do you raise exotic lizards? You get the idea.
Do you have any great quotes?
They could be from someone well-known or a club that loves you and books you every time you come to town. Has a high profile publication mentioned you? A quote from a lesser-known publication is good also if it’s exceptionally descriptive and creative.
What are some of the most important gigs you’ve had?
Consider prominent venues (even if it was just a showcase), big audiences, wide TV exposure, or Elvis in the audience. (And did you get a quote from him?)
Have you recorded?
If so, mention titles and year released. Include more detail for your most recent release. Be sure to mention if your producer or session musicians are connected to someone famous.
Has your music been licensed for TV, movies or games?
What are your goals?
New album coming out soon? New tour? Are you pursuing a label deal? Proud of being independent?
Numbers can sometimes be important
What are your download numbers? How many dates do you do in a year? Have you charted anywhere?
Who have you shared the stage with?
This isn’t as important, but it’ll let people know your general sound. Be honest. If you and Adele played at the same festival on different stages, that doesn’t count.
If you’re a band, include short bios for each member
Include instrument played, experience, and band history. These are usually best at the end or in a separate section.
Are you finding this post helpful? Before you read on please consider keeping me in coffee and my cats in kibble. And it’s only $2.
Rein in the word count
Sure, you’ve got unlimited space on your website, but why use it all if no one is going to get to the end of that novel-length tome? Back in the day when we dealt with just paper, it was best to keep a bio to around 500 words since that fit nicely on one page. I still try to do that, especially if the artist is sending paper promo.