I was searching through the state of Oklahoma government records looking for information when I stumbled across biographies of former slaves. I opened the PDF and read the first story told by Ethel Wolfe Barrison. Her story was like nothing I had read in school text books in our history class. Ethel explains her day to day life through her eyes, yet to me it was a whole new outlook and perspective of the pain, sorrow, loneliness, fear, unstable lives they had to live. She also describes the day the army rode up on horses, yelling “the slaves are free”, and how her life changed, but her memories were buried deep within.
Times have truly changed, right? or have they? I wish everyone would take a second to read these biographies and really let it sink in what they went through, and where we are today, in the present time. The lack of respect that most individuals have for one another, and themselves, the names we jokingly call our friends and loved ones as well as ourselves when speaking in 3rd person (that’s my bitch, that’s my dog, that’s my nigga) all in the name of love right? No. Its disrespectful, its degrading and truly should be looked at as an insult. Change starts with self. If we all hold ourselves accountable, think of the possibilities and change that could manifest from that one simple action. Its not hard, so whats stopping you from taking that initial step? Leader is the only name you should be called.
You need a good artist bio. I mean, you really need one. If you expect people to write about you and your music, you’ve gotta give ‘em the CliffsNotes. A journalist’s not going to search far and wide just so they can plug a few sentences into a show-preview blurb. Instead, they’ll write about someone else. So, not having a bio can really be detrimental. But having a good one can be one of the most beneficial things in your repertoire – it allows you to have a one-sided conversation with both fans and journalists, giving them the info you think is the most important.
However, having a crappy band-bio can sometimes be worse than not having one at all. Hitching your pony to something that is poorly executed is going to make you look sloppy and unprofessional by association. Here are 5 mistakes you may be making in your bio, and some ways you can fix them.
1. Your bio is too long. Are you familiar with the internet acronym “tl;dr”? It stands for “too long; didn’t read” and is often seen as a response to lengthy posts in forums, but its applications don’t end there. And this is NOT something you want people to think/type/say when they come across your bio. Allow me to be blunt here: no one wants to read 1500 words about your band, except possibly the people in your band. People want the condensed version – an easy-to-swallow overview that doesn’t feel like homework. Give that to them.
2. Your bio is too short. “Goat Desolation plays barnyard-themed black metal and is from Parts Unknown” isn’t going to cut it as a full bio. Yes, it’s good that they’ve got where they’re from and what kind of music they play in there, but there should be more. Tell a simple version of your backstory, give some examples of who you’ve been compared to musically, and list off some career highlights if you have any. Two or three concise, well-worded paragraphs is all you really need. And when someone sees that, they’ll take the time to read it. Because it won’t take that much time.
3. You waste space with things no one is going to care about. I’m going to be blunt again: People might want to know how your band got together, but they aren’t going to want to know every single detail of how you all ended up in the same garage. And if they do, you can post the long version in a special place on your website. I’ve seen band bios that try and take the reader through a step-by-step account of how each member joined the band, what bands they were in before, how many practices it took for them to find their groove – something that could have been summed up with “Goat Desolation formed in the summer of 2012, drawn together by a mutual love of most things metal and all things beer. They started playing shows three months later.”
Your band’s origins are interesting to you, and maybe to your friends, but you’ve gotta think big-picture here. Along these same lines: If your bass player used to be in Stryper, mention that. If he used to be in a band that no one has heard of outside your neighborhood, do not mention that.
4. You forget to include things that everyone will care about. These things include band members’ names, what their function is in the group, how many records you’ve put out, where you’re from, a succinct description of your musical style, etc. In other words, things that someone who is going to write about your music is going to want to know. Again: make it easy for them. They’re going to write their own piece, but your bio can steer them in a direction that will be beneficial for you, so take hold of the reins. And your drummer will thank you when he gets his name in a blurb instead of just being referred to as “the drummer.” He’s probably already had enough of that.
5. Your bio is poorly written or formatted. Spell-check is only going to catch so much. If you’re worried that you’re not the best writer, have someone who you know is a good writer help you out, edit your copy, or do it for you. If I see a bio that isn’t separated into easy-to-read paragraphs and is riddled with grammatical and/or spelling errors, I’m not going to assume that artist is dumb, but I’m going to assume they’re lazy, and that’s even worse. Why spend all that time perfecting your music just to half-ass it when it comes to describing it?