Wednesday, August 21, 2013

5 Tips to Write a Better Band Bio

I've been reading a lot of band bios lately, and as important as they can be to connecting your music to new fans, there are a ton of pitfalls to the practice that can ruin your bio. First, let me say this: I get it. Trying to write a short paragraph about your music that sums up everything that your sound is about while still conveying the pertinent information isn't easy. In fact, it kind of sucks, but it is extremely important for fans, and even more important for promoters and reviewers of your band, to be able to find out quickly and accurately what your music is all about. Remember that when the opportunity comes to get some press for your band, writers often have little time and even less knowledge of your band. They don't necessarily have time to sift through your multitude of Soundcloud, bandcamp, etc. pages to learn what makes you who you are. You need to help them out so that they not only CAN write a good piece about you, but also they WANT to write a good piece about you. If I have the choice of 50 bands to write about, I'm going to choose the one who actually tells me something substantial about their music right off the bat. Then, with that nugget of interest, I may go do more research. But if I have to do a wealth of research just to talk about your genre, well, I'm most likely going to pass on you.

Writing band bios can be challenging

So, after working through a lot of band bios, I have formulated some really simple tips that can help improve your own bio.

1. Keep it simple. Tell us why we would want to see your band. This must be extremely simple. "We make you dance." This is the kind of idea you need to convey with your bio. Give your reader a motivation that is very easy to understand. Put yourself in the reader's shoes. If you were going to go to a show, why would you go? Are the players extremely talented and a marvel to watch on stage? Is the DJ known for playing tunes that make the crowd dance? Is the performer a touching songwriter? Are you going to hear that hit song that you can't get out of your head? There is a very basic reason that most people go to shows, and that reason is: FUN. So tell us, why is your band fun? And tell us in one simple sentence.

2. Avoid Buzzwords. Think about the words that you use and decide whether or not they actually mean anything to the reader outside of the context of your bio. Words like amazing, excellent, exquisite, and thousands of descriptive adjectives are basically only acting as puff pieces. It doesn't make a difference how much you build up your band with buzzwords, because in the end, they don't convey any real information to the reader. With only a few sentences to describe your music, every word counts. Don't waste them on what is essentially bullshit. Think of it this way: if you were going to describe food to someone, you wouldn't want to just hear that it's delicious. This is one time that the “benefit of the doubt” is in your favor. The reader is already assuming that your music is "delicious" or they wouldn't be reading on it. So be sure to tell them about the details that make the dish. Flavor is a good analogy, what gives your music it's unique flavor?

3. Save the History. While some history on the band may be important, it is most likely the least important information in your bio. I don't care if your band members were all high school buddies, I don't care if you have played together for 5 years or 25 years. Things like this are only important after you can tell me WHY I would want to see your band. If you're just another rock band, playing cover tunes, why do you think I need to know that your guitarist and bass player met in middle school? Let me assure you, I don't care. If you are Phish, then it makes more sense to tell us you've been playing together for 20 plus years. This works for a big band like Phish because their story has already captured the reader. Whoever is writing about Phish knows why they are writing about Phish, but do they have any reason to write about you? Probably not, at least not yet. Which is why it is so important to leave the history of your band towards the end of your bio if you put it in there at all. Don't open your bio with: "Ten years of jamming together have made these high school buddies intense and spectacular players together." This sentence really tells me nothing about your band that I can share with my own readers. And now you may have possibly burned up half of your reader's attention. Lead with the important stuff and then leave the history for later. As a side note, if you're going to talk about the band's history, tell us what the band members actually do. It's much more useful to know what instruments the band plays than how they met or how long they have been together.

4. Pick a genre. I know, I know, your band plays lots of different genres and on top of that you're more of a fusion of dub, electro, and psytrance than just electronic. This kind of description is typical because bands don't want to pigeonhole themselves. It's good to be unique, but once again, it's so important to quickly inform your reader, even when talking about genre. If you're a rock band that plays reggae, ska, bluegrass, and jazz, you're still a rock band. My point here is that you have to break it down for people. If you say too much then you're really not saying anything at all. If you outright tell your reader, "We don't fit into any one genre" you're also telling them NOTHING about your music. It might be hard and it might take a little soul searching, but take the time to figure out what you do well and put it into a genre people can recognize. When you're working your day job or talking to your grandparents and someone asks, “What kind of music do you play,” what do you tell them? This knee jerk reaction to the question from someone that doesn’t understand your specific sub genre is probably a good answer for the majority of people asking the same question. Start simple, then when you have their attention, dig deeper.

5. Tell us where you're from. Believe it or not, I've read numerous band bios that say literally nothing about where the artist is originally from or where they currently call home. While this may seem like a trivial detail, it actually goes along way to give context to your music. You don’t need to go overboard with this information. We don't need to necessarily know which suburb or neighborhood you live in or which high school you went to. Just tell us the city. This can give a writer a great launching off point to talk about your music and where it’s coming from. It can also make the music you create more relevant if the city you hail from is really becoming noticed for a certain type of music at the moment. And while I say don't go overboard, at the same time, if you come from a particular neighborhood that is significantly well known for a music scene, then this would be good information to share. Remember, once again, keep it simple and then dig deeper, but only if it’s really worth it.

OK, so there you go! These are my five tips to help improve your band bio and ideally help inform the readers that you are trying to reach. Remember, think of every sentence and every word as valuable real estate. You don't want to waste space on words that don't matter. It may take many revisions to really tighten up your bio to the most pertinent information, but it will be worth it. If you can make an impression on a press contact within a short paragraph, then you are only improving your chances of getting that blog you've been trying to land forever.

3 comments:

  1. #5 is also good if someone is looking to book your band. Knowing that you're currently in Denver, but originated is Boston is good info to know where you can bring in a crowd.

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  2. Hey nice article buddy, this stuff is really interesting and helpful. thanks for sharing.

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