Every artist has some form of a band bio. Traditionally, they include background on you (and/or your fellow bandmates), the story behind your music, a brief discography of past albums/singles, notable gigs, and what you’re up to now or working on next.
All of that is fine, but an outstanding bio needs a bit more pizzazz, and it’s unbelievably easy to spruce up a dull bio with just a few quick tweaks that show off your creativity and make you look ultra professional. So, whether you’re writing your bio for the first time or desperately need to update your current one, try one of these five tactics to elevate your band bio instantly.
1. Open with an anecdote
We’ve all read countless bios that start with some form of “so-and-so was born in New York City and started playing music when he or she was five.” Yawn. While it’s factual and technically correct as far as bios go, it’s not going to turn any heads and might not even compel the reader to finish scanning it, no matter how long or short it is.
Instead, try thinking of an unusual or profound moment in your life or career and open with that. Did you play at an unusual venue? Do you have a significant mentor? Is your songwriting process kind of odd? Analyze your journey to this point and construct an engaging anecdote that draws readers in and makes them need to hear your music.
2. Add quotes
Quotes are a great way to incorporate your voice into a bio, and they’re also useful for both readers and journalists alike. (Sometimes, if we’re writing a review and we don’t have an opportunity to interview the artist, we’ll just pull quotes from the bio and sprinkle them throughout the piece if they’re a good fit.) It’s an opportunity to showcase your character and tell your story in the first person.
In order to generate these sound bytes, interview yourself. It might seem weird at first, but really think about questions you’ve been asked or questions you’d imagine a writer would ask about your process, your history, your music, and your bandmates (past or present). Then, either write out your responses or record a voice memo with your answers. You might find that you get more organic, natural answers if you talk through them rather than editing as you go writing.
Once you’re happy with your quotes, insert them into your bio in relevant spots. And if you’re releasing a new record, you’ll want to feature quotes about its genesis front and center.
3. Write in third person
In general, you should always write in third person (using terms like “they,” “he,” “she,” etc.) when it comes to your musical materials. Never write band bio in first person (“I,” “we,” etc.). Why? For one, if you’re a member of a band, it’s unclear who’s actually doing the talking for the entire band. Particularly when you’re incorporating those interesting anecdotes (see above), the reader can’t be sure who in the band they pertain to.
While writing in the third person and adding a story about a specific band member, use his or her name instead of dropping an “I” or “we.” This involves a bit of out-of-body experience, but pretend you’re a music journalist writing the story of your band. Then, it’ll seem silly to even think about writing in first person.
4. Hire a professional
If you simply don’t have time or feel like you’re not up to the task of sprucing up your band bio, there’s good news: Lots of times, music journalists moonlight as bio writers. And here’s another little secret: Lots of times, hiring a music writer to create your band bio means they’re also getting intimately familiar with your music, which could lead to coverage down the road. Personally, I wrote a band bio for a former American Idol contestant a few years ago, and I still listen to her tunes from time to time.
Now, notice I said “hire.” You should never, ever expect writers to create a bio for free. It simply won’t happen. Sure, we’ll give you a review or chat with you for a piece for free, but this is vastly different. As a work-for-hire, we expect to get paid for our time and services. How much depends on your agreement with the writer; sometimes, it’s per word or sometimes it’s a flat fee. Regardless, make sure you ask the writer to create a long version and a truncated, shorter version because you’ll need both at some point in your career.
Alternately, you can also hire an editor or proofreader to give your self-written bio a good once-over when you’re finished with it. It might save a bit of money, but you’ll still have the benefit of getting professional eyes on your own writing.
5. Include relevant contact information and links at the bottom
Even if you’re linking your site and mentioning your contact info everywhere else in your EPK, make sure you include them on your band bio. You never know which of your materials someone might see first, and if he or she wants to contact you solely based on your bio, make it easy. Be sure to include your email address, social handles, website, and streaming links at the very least.
Don’t forget that your bio is often the first full-picture impression bookers, writers, managers, agents, and more get of your band. A clunky bio that’s hard to understand or is boring to read leaves a bad taste in readers’ mouths. Make sure your bio is the one that’s remembered later and represents your band and your music well.
Allison Johnelle Boron is a Los Angeles-based writer and editor. Her work has appeared in Goldmine magazine, Paste, and more. She is the founder of REBEAT, a “blogazine” focused on mid-century music, culture, and lifestyle.