All bands and musicians need a good bio. “What is a bio exactly?” I hear you say. Wikipedia defines a bio like this:
“Greek words ‘bios’ meaning ‘life’, and ‘graphos‘ meaning ‘write’ is an account of a person’s life, usually published in the form of a book or essay, or in some other form…
A biography is more than a list of impersonal facts (like birth, education, work, relationships and death), it also portrays the subject’s experience of those events.”
Now some folks take this definition very literally and try to give their entire life story, every instrument they’ve ever played and every band they’ve ever been in. Most people who read these bios are busy and simply don’t have time to wade through pages of info in order to find out about their subject. This means you need to be brief. Keep it to one page, seriously! Only give information that is relevant to the reader. Try the old formula of Who, What, When, Where and Why.
Who are you or who’s in your band? Briefly, list your members and any relevant experience. Don’t list every band they have ever been in unless they were big or well-known bands. Nothing spells “amateur” more than a list of twenty unknown bands that your drummer has played in. Also, don’t exaggerate your experience. If you claim you once played with the Rolling Stones then you’d better be able to back it up.
What kind of music do you play? Don’t get into that whole “I won’t be pigeon-holed, I am unique and no one else sounds like me” rubbish. Even if it’s true, and it’s probably not, you are not helping the reader to form an impression of your band or music. If you play modern, swing-country music with a dash of polka then say so. Pretend for a minute that you can’t send a demo CD with your press kit and that your bio needs to tell the whole story with just words. Be daring enough to pigeon hole yourself.
When did your band form, when did you start playing, when is your album due out? Give a brief history of how the band formed and took shape or how you got started on your instrument. Again, don’t try and tell your whole life story, just the good bits.
Where are you from/where do you play/where have you played?
Why? Here’s the kicker. You should try to explain why the reader should be interested in giving you a gig, recording your band, giving you airplay or whatever it is you are trying to get from the reader. Be honest and don’t bullsh!t.
If it’s a live venue then explain to the reader how you or your band is going to fill their venue with satisfied, paying punters. If it’s for a radio then tell the reader how playing your music will fit their format and suit their listeners. It’s a hard thing to do but if you can nail the why the rest becomes easier.
That’s probably enough to think about for the time being. Sit down and start getting some notes together using the formula above. Don’t worry about getting it perfect in the beginning, just get it down on paper or typed into a document. Then edit like crazy till it fits on a single piece of paper. Most folks won’t read more than that so if you’re going to sell yourself, you need to get to the point on the first page.
Once you have the basic elements in place then check back for our next installment when I will show you how to add in a few basic marketing techniques to really supercharge your bio, complete with a finished example.
If you have any questions or suggestions of your own I’d love to hear them. Just drop a comment in below.