The secrets to writing a great artist biography
When it comes to many events or festivals scouting for talent to add to their line-ups, the first pit stop many organizers will take is to peruse websites like Resident Advisor or an artist’s social profiles – which most commonly contain a bio in the ‘About Me’ section. As a press manager or head of the label, the bio is the instant tool in gaining the attention of the audience when attempting to gain traction to your artist’s most notorious achievements. So how can the ‘perfect bio’ become constructed? And most importantly, what are the key steps in collating – and then presenting – the information of a producer’s career, to help boost their status globally?
Step 1: Research
Like all projects, research is the most pivotal part of the process, and in order to comprehensively provide the reader with an in-depth tale of an entire career, your own knowledge needs to be razor sharp.
The chief copywriter at music PR company ‘Listen Up’ – who have represented just about every face in the industry, including Tiësto, Avicii, Marshmello, and many more over the years – stated that, “Often, the most fruitful method revolves around asking a series of questions which you can later answer throughout the biography”. For example:
- Where are you from? How did the DJ’s nationality relate to the music scene around him? (For example, big room sounds in the Netherlands, progressive in Sweden, deep house in the UK, and so on)
- What led the career choice? Usually, a moment, or inspiration from a young age, plays a huge factor in this. Martin Garrix, for example, was DJ’ing in his bedroom from the age of 10.
- Who influences you? Where do you draw inspiration from?
- What have you achieved so far, in terms of gigs or projects?
- What are your upcoming projects? (Giving exclusivity on new info in a bio teases the reader into knowing that even more exciting times are ahead for this artist. This helps the artist stay current, and relevant, with their fanbase.)
Step 2: Write the draft biography
By this point, the questions you wrote down should have answers attached to them, and with your information gathered, the next step is to open the biography with a structure. The first paragraph should be giving the audience a nutshell summary of who the artist is, and what they represent, if the artist has ever won any big awards or sold X amount of records, this can add prestige to their title, and help promote them in a subtle and passive way. For example:
“The Grammy-award winning CID started producing music at a young age…”
“Platinum-selling producer Jonas Blue is now a household name worldwide…”
When it comes to writing a biography, the avoidance of repetition is key. There are so many times ‘Axwell’ can be referred to as ‘Axwell’ before things become tiresome for the reader, so don’t be afraid to mix it up. ‘The Axtone label owner’, ‘The ‘Barricade’ Producer’, and ‘The Swedish House Mafia icon’ all acceptable examples when it comes to describing the artist without repeated name use across every sentence.
With a snappy opening paragraph tucked away in the locker, it is important to move on to an order of achievements and huge career moments. This is usually done chronologically, and though it may be tempting to use stats (e.g. “The track garnered over 93 million Spotify plays”), it’s important to remember how quickly these kind of stats change in the modern age thanks to the viral nature of online streaming, and hence, your biography can soon appear both inaccurate and out of date.
With the third person (“He did this and she did that”) universally acknowledged as the best tone to adopt, the next debate centers around length. The truth is, most promoters or even journalists are not going to have the time to read more than four to five paragraphs of detailed, but to the point, so try to keep to one sheet of size 11 (or at very minimum, 10,) font.
Step 3: The final tweaks
With the biography, now essentially written, there are a few things you’re going to want to look out for, just to trim the edges, and make sure your final work is cliché-free. Don’t: Fluff your bio up with hype, or cheesy lines that lack professionalism. e.g. “Don’t be surprised when you suddenly find yourself dancing” Don’t: Over-exaggerate. All it takes is for a few well-timed Google searches to rumble your claims, and this can make you look untrustworthy. If you are an up and coming artist, don’t be afraid to market yourself as exactly that rather than laying claim to a status as “One of the biggest DJs in the world right now…”
Making sure your bio is updated regularly (There is nothing worse than reading ‘XXX is set for a huge year in 2014!’ when a quarter of the way through 2018) and if writing is not your strong point, then don’t be afraid to draft in the help of a professional copywriter; this is exactly what these people are trained and paid to do.
The biography is a key component in the promotion puzzle of a successful artist, but remember, without maintaining other strong areas, such as an online presence, involvement in the local scene, Soundcloud and Mixcloud accounts, a website, and press kit, the biography will carry much less weight. It is, however, still the first stand-out document that can make or break booking requests on first view, and hence, can – and should – not be under-estimated.