What Not To Do When Writing Your Bio

When you’re involved in two sides of the industry like I am–being both a publicist and a writer, sometimes it feels like all you’re ever reading is artist bios.

Trust me, I’ve seen it all, and a lot of those bios I’ve read are not pretty.

A bio is a major reflection of the band or artist it’s about. This may seem like a big duh, but you’d be surprised at how many bios out there are poorly written or make the band look bad because they are poorly written.

And honestly, I think the truth is most of us don’t realize how important a bio really is, and we don’t know what to look out for when it comes to writing them. 

Take a look at some of these don’ts to get a head start on what not to do in your next bio revision.

Don’t Ramble

Please, please, please, save everyone’s time and energy by keeping your bio concise. 

This is not the place to ramble on and on about the entire history of your band, or about your entire life story. Sure, you may be interested in those details, but the rest of the world probably isn’t. Remember, we’re going off first impressions here which means if a stranger isn’t going to find it compelling, it’s got to go.

Your bio is another place where you can sell yourself and give people a reason to listen to your music so they can then hopefully become new fans. You don’t want to bore them with useless facts.

Think about what you would and wouldn’t want to know about another band, and what will help you stand out. Do you have any notable accomplishments? What is your mission? What’s a unique story about the band?

At the same time, we don’t want a bio that’s only a few sentences. Staying around 400-500 words gives you enough space to convey your story and the relevant details like the above, without going too far off track

Don’t Leave Your Fans Uninformed

I’ve read my fair share of bios, and you wouldn’t believe how often a band’s bio will leave out information about their latest release. I get it, you’ve got other things going on. But before you start sending that baby out, make sure it’s updated to reflect who you are and what you’re actually promoting.

You may think no one will notice, but the truth is your bio should be getting an upgrade with every new release. This is crucial because if your bio is how you tell press, venues, etc about who you are, it needs to reflect the most recent version of that. 

And the great news is, it doesn’t have to take a long time. Most of your bio can and will stay the same, but rotating out information on your latest release, and adding relevant accomplishments as they come in will help your bio truly stand out.

When it’s time to spread the word about your music, it’s time to look at Promote It

Don’t Write in the First Person

This is one of the most common mistakes I see artists making, is that they’ll write their bio in the first person. This is a big no-no—you always want to write in the third person. While you might initially feel like it’s impersonal, this is standard practice and is going to make the whole thing a lot more readable. 

And look, remember in school when teachers would ask you to write essays in the third person? It’s the same thing here. 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.

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.

Don’t Write Your Own Bio if Writing Isn’t Your Strong Suit

I get it, sometimes it can be really hard to write about ourselves. It can feel weird and self-indulgent, and sometimes that just feels too difficult to get around.

If you find it difficult to write about yourself, or if you know that writing in this way just isn’t your thing, (or if you know writing in general just isn’t your strength) either have one of your band members take over, or pay someone to do it for you.

If your bio is written poorly, no one is going to take you seriously. That’s why it’s so important to only DIY this piece of things if you’re already a strong writer who is comfortable writing about yourself. Otherwise, save yourself the hassle and throw someone a hundred bucks to do it for you. It might be worth it just to not spend hours agonizing over it, and to ensure you have a high-quality, professional-sounding bio that will land you more press and opportunities.

After all, if your bio is the cornerstone of your EPK and the first introduction to you and your band, it’s worth getting it right, isn’t it?

​​Angela Mastrogiacomo is the founder and CEO of Muddy Paw PR . She loves ice cream, trashy TV, and hanging with her dog Sawyer.

ColtonWhat Not To Do When Writing Your Bio

16 comments

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  • Rob Roper - September 15, 2021 reply

    All that is good advice. I would just underline that if you have a friend and/or fan who is a good writer and works in sales, marketing or advertising, hit them up to write your Bio for you. They’re a professional. They know you, they know your music, and they can use their professional skills to zero in on what is unique about you, and your strengths. That said, I haven’t found anybody like that to do mine lol.

    Steve Forshaw - September 16, 2021 reply

    If you can’t write a bio you probably can’t write songs.

    John Parks - September 16, 2021 reply

    Hahaha, yeah, no. If you are bad at tennis, you are probably bad at basketball?
    Different ballparks.

    Will - September 17, 2021 reply

    Yeah because composing music and writing is exactly the same thing. Thanks for your profound insight

  • Steve Wagner American Songwriter - September 15, 2021 reply

    The third-person tip is the key thing for me here—thank you!

    Also, check your first two paragraphs under the “Don’t Leave Your Fans…” header. Some redundancy…

  • Raymond Byabazaire - September 16, 2021 reply

    Hi, Angela.
    The point about writing in the third person is something I had never thought about…:-) Thanks, very much.

  • Jimmy Flame - September 16, 2021 reply

    Good stuff. Thanks for the article!

  • Mario D Petrella - September 16, 2021 reply

    The only thing is: This is ReverbNation, not Rolling Stone; so 3rd person WILL sound pretentious … Please give serious consideration to scratching that suggestion. M

  • Donna Lorrancie Walton - September 16, 2021 reply

    Donna Lorrancie Walton Singer/Songwriter
    Love your advice and have a question for you I hope you cam answer I never submit any of my songs because I don’t have them licensed and fear loosing the rights to them after submission I have lost a lot of opportunities because of this also I have no clue how to do this
    Thank you for your time and concern
    Cheers!
    Donna Lorrancie Walton

  • Donna Lorrancie Walton - September 16, 2021 reply

    Donna Lorrancie Walton Singer/Songwriter
    Love your advice and have a question for you I hope you can answer I never submit any of my songs because I don’t have them licensed and fear loosing the rights to them after submission I have lost a lot of opportunities because of this also I have no clue how to do this
    Thank you for your time and concern
    Cheers!
    Donna Lorrancie Walton

  • Jeremy Lui - September 16, 2021 reply

    How to write a good bio: Be young and good looking!

  • girls games - September 17, 2021 reply

    Thank you for sharing with us, I think this site really stands out and is of interest to many people.

  • Lee - September 19, 2021 reply

    I cannot disagree more that fans have no benefit to knowing your musical history, or experiences. Music is personal. It’s universal. And it’s a reflection of human connection and community. One doesn’t have to inundate or overwhelm their reader, but touching on influences and what brought you to where yiu are now when dine well can connect with people you have never met. I think a bio is a great place for that. Another place to expound on influences and musical developement for those who may not feel the same is in an interview. If you aren’t comfortable or confident of them in a bio, I highly encourage getting someone to interview you. In doing so, fans can get to know the person they see on the surface.
    ☺ Lee of Hekia

  • Lee - September 19, 2021 reply

    My apologies, in my previous comment I intended to write,”where you are now when done well.”

  • kempmusik - September 20, 2021 reply

    i would like to add to the conversation that when seeking a professional copywriter for your bio, be careful about choosing someone who doesnt’ personally know you. i did this once and what was returned to me read almost like a mad libs of fill in the blank sort of writing that ultimately just became a learning experience and never saw the sunlight.
    just a thought.

  • Beth - September 21, 2021 reply

    I always write in the third person when I write stellar reviews about me and my music.

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