What NOT to Do When Writing Your Artist Bio

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As an indie artist (or band), I know that there is a lot that you have to take on — from music making to show booking to social media posting, and everything in between.

Heck, you might even be running your own PR campaigns, and those can be incredibly overwhelming in themselves. You need to prepare the press photos and the press release and the pitch, but you also need a bio.

In addition to being a publicist for five plus years, I’ve also been on the journalist’s side of the industry for over eight years, and the number of times I’ve received pitches with no bio — or, at least, no useful bio — to be found is frustrating, to put it mildly.

During my time in the industry, I’ve written countless bios for artists and industry figures of all levels, from brand new artists and rising stars to trending acts and acclaimed icons, so here are my best suggestions for what to avoid when it comes time to craft your own.

1. Do not share your life story.

Although a little bit of storytelling is a great asset, people actually aren’t interested in the full down-to-the-minute detail of it. Trust me. You don’t need to share every detail of your human experience or your musical journey in your bio, only what’s relevant.

For example, journalists don’t need to know what your favorite color is or where you go shopping every week in order to be interested in covering your music, but they would want to know what inspired your latest release and if you’ve received any significant recognition or awards.

Your readers — whether they’re fans or members of the press — will thank you.

+ Read more on Flypaper: “How to Run Your Own PR Campaign.”

2. Do not talk about people who are no longer in the band.

Your band may look completely different than it did five years ago, and that’s totally okay. Perhaps previous members played an important role in getting your band where it is today, but unfortunately, and to be brutally honest here, they are just no longer relevant to your story. 

This is something that drives me absolutely crazy whenever I come across it, and I’m sure there are numerous journalists out there who feel the same, so instead of wasting precious page space on irrelevant information, focus only on your current members and their roles. 

P.S. You do not need to share how you all met — that information is best saved for revealing in interviews!

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3. Do not blabber on about nothing for multiple pages.

A bio is meant to capture your band’s story and to serve as an introduction to press. This can be done both effectively and efficiently within the scope of 400-500 words.

Writers do not have the time to read a novel.

Remember, if you’re sending your bio in a pitch, yours isn’t the only submission that writer is receiving. Countless emails are hitting their inbox every day that demand from them the same thing that you are, which is setting up a potential feature or interview, so make sure you’re being respectful of their time.

I’ve seen bios that have gone on for miles — and it is absolutely exhausting, not to mention unnecessary, to read through the whole thing just to find the important and relevant points that would be useful for a given piece. Not many writers out there are going to take that time to sift through the mud to find the gold.

If you’re running your own PR campaign, your goal is to make it as easy as possible for journalists to learn about you/your band and to entice and intrigue them, and one of the keys to achieving that is your bio. If someone (whether a potential fan, booking agent, etc.) lands on your website and reads your bio, your goal is the same.

Don’t make their job more difficult than it needs to be; tell your story in 500 words or less.

+ Read more on Flypaper: “Best Practices: Pitching in Spotify for Artists.”

4. Do not write it in the first person.

You should avoid writing your bio in the first person and instead opt for third person. Why?

First, writing in third person gives you some distance so you can attempt to tell your story with some objectivity. Second, writing in the first person is too casual and informal, which is not the tone you want to shoot for with something that very important people may be reading one day.

Third person is always the way to go — it’s clean, formal, and looks more official.

5. Don’t share your bio without proofreading it!

Please, please, please, for the love of everything that is good in this world, do not forget to proofread your bio before posting it online and sending it out to press.

Having grammatical and spelling errors in your band’s bio is the quickest way to appear careless to both fans and press alike. If you don’t care enough to check for errors in your bio, which is something that should matter to you, do you really care that much about developing your music career and forming connections with the journalists that you want to cover your music at some point?

Even if writing isn’t your thing and you have no choice but to write your bio yourself if you can’t pay a publicist or someone else to do it for you, having a cleanly written, error-free bio on hand will help shape the image of professionalism that you likely (hopefully) wish to convey to the world.

So, at the very least, run it through spell check, and if you can, get another set of eyes on it by asking a friend, a cousin, a parent, somebody, anybody, to look it over if necessary.

Writing your artist or band bio can be a daunting task. It’s not easy to sum up who you are and what you represent in an eye-catching and effective way. But by following these simple guidelines you’ll be on the right track to crafting a winner.

Don’t stop here!

Continue learning with hundreds of lessons on songwriting, mixing, recording and production, composing, beat making, and more on Soundfly, with artist-led courses by KimbraCom TruiseJlinRyan Lott, and the acclaimed Kiefer: Keys, Chords, & Beats.

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