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.
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.
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.