[Editors Note: This article was written by Erica D’Aurora.]
Having started my career in the music industry as a blogger, and then finding my way into the world of PR, I’ve read—and written—my fair share of artist bios. I’ve seen it all, really. Long ones, short ones, and some that don’t even make sense.
What frustrates me the most when I read a bio are those times when it’s obvious how little effort has been put into it. Three sentences do not make a great bio. In fact, three sentences cannot even be categorized as a formal bio, but sadly, I’ve seen “formal” bios that aren’t much longer than that. Unless you’re writing a bio for social media platforms, which is a subject for another day, your formal bio should consist of at least three to four healthy paragraphs that together paint a revealing and compelling picture of who you are and the music you make.
Imagine your bio is like an interview, or a date—it’s your chance to relate to the reader, to share your passion with them, and to show them why your band is worth a listen. But you may be at a loss as to how to go about doing that, so below are some tips for writing an alluring bio that will pull people in and keep them hooked for good.
Capture Your Band’s Essence
A bio is a tool that writers and editors, media outlets, and industry professionals will use to learn more about you and the music you make. So the most important thing to do is to make sure your own bio highlights your unique creative spirit. What is the driving force behind your music? Why do you do what you do? What do you think it is that makes you stand out from other bands?
Your bio should address all of these questions in a captivating way, so instead of answering them like you would on a test (e.g. “We make music because xyz”), remember that music is rooted in emotion. We love the artists and songs we do because of how they make us feel. Our favorite bands accompany us through the defining moments in our lives, from birthdays to funerals, from romantic encounters to devastating breakups. I’m sure your music provokes certain emotions in you when you write and play it, so instead of just saying that you’ve always loved music and that your music is wonderful (I’m begging you not to do this), or that your music sounds like XYZ other bands, try to convey how you hope your music will do the same for someone else.
Remember, you want to show people why you’re amazing through your story and not just tell them. You can tell anyone anything, but they won’t necessarily believe what you’re telling them until they see proof. Keep that in mind.
Keep It Digestible
Your bio is definitely not the place to be long winded. No one has the time to read two (or more) pages of useless fluff, and it will quickly be abandoned—and leave your band forgotten—if it’s absurdly long.
For most full bios, the sweet spot is around 400-500 words, which will prevent you from rambling on for too long and inadvertently create a snoozefest that’s painful to get through. It doesn’t have to include every detail of your life, or the entire saga of how you got to where you are today. You don’t need to explain how you met your bandmates, or why your favorite color is blue. Instead, your bio should invite readers into your world by conveying relevant information about your band in the form of a story. You want to inspire whoever reads your bio to not only listen to your music but to become a fan, so if you find yourself including information that you wouldn’t want to know about another band (like where they buy their groceries, for example), your readers probably won’t want to know that information about you either.
Keep It Professional
There’s a reason why your teachers stressed the importance of writing essays in the third person. Writing your bio in the first person (e.g. “My name is X and I’m a singer-songwriter from Texas”) sounds incredibly DIY and unprofessional. Using the objective voice (e.g. “X band has made their mark on audiences across the United States and beyond”), on the other hand, not only comes off as more professional, but it also allows the reader to absorb your story without bias, foregoing the distraction of your incessant me, me, me’s and your I, I, I’s.
However, if you want to add a little bit of a more personal touch, you can include a direct quote, whether it’s about why you make music or the message behind your upcoming album. Quotes add amazing depth to any bio and help remind people that they’re not reading about an abstract concept, but about real human beings who are creating art with an impact.
Mention Your Notable Accomplishments
Have you had a song featured on a popular Netflix show? Did you hit the Top 10 on the Billboard charts? Was your debut album an overwhelming success? Have you opened for a GRAMMY Award-winning artist or played a major music festival?
Your favorite food has no business being listed in your bio, although it’s a great piece of trivia to share in an interview, but your accomplishments are what editors at your favorite publications are really looking for. That doesn’t mean your bio should read like a laundry list of your accomplishments, though. Of course you’ll want to include your most notable achievements, but you’ll also want to make sure you balance them with unique quirks, personality traits, or anecdotes that help show who the band is as a whole.
For instance, did you meet on Craigslist? Then maybe leave that out (not so interesting). But if you all met at the carnival as you were running away from a killer clown, or maybe the idea for your latest single came to you in a dream, then that might be worth noting.
Mention Your Upcoming Projects and New Releases
At the end of your bio, you should mention what you’re working on. Whether you’re preparing to release a new album or you’re getting ready to go on tour, your existing fans—and potential fans—want to know about it. You can also include links to your website and social media accounts, so people will be able to find you quickly.
In the end, though, your bio is how you’ll make your first impression on a lot of people, from important industry executives to potential fans. It’s like an extension of you—you may not be in that room with them, but your bio will speak for you. And just like in real life, if your bio is hopelessly boring and incessant, no one will want to take the time to get to know you more.
So when you’re sitting down to write your bio, remember the three Ws:
Who are we? (Personality, quirks, etc.)
Why should anyone care? (What makes you unique? Why is it relatable?)
What will they get out of checking us out? (New tours? Music? Funny stories?)
That’s their invite into your world, and that’s how your bio attracts new fans.
Erica D’Aurora is a senior publicist with Muddy Paw PR and founder of the international music blog Musical Notes Global. She finds her greatest joy in helping artists achieve their dreams.