Below is an exerpt from an article on taxi.com written by Dan Kimpel. [Dan Kimpel, a Los Angeles-based publicity and PR consultant, is the author of Networking in the Music Business (Mix Books). He writes a bi-weekly column, SongWorks, for Music Connection magazine and Song Book for Grammy magazine. You can read the full article, including examples of bios, good and bad, at www.taxi.com/members/bios.html.]
The bio is the cement that holds a press kit together. It should:
- Create an
- Define a musical
- Lead the reader directly to the
Who needs bios?
Recording artists, songwriters, performers and producers all benefit from well-written bios. “Send your tape, bio and picture,” is usually the first request from someone interested in your talents.
What if I don’t have major credits?
Unsigned artist bios often spotlight personalities, histories and creative processes. The bio must be honest, but the truth should also sound as good as possible. Never mistake hype for substance.
Can I write my own bio?
Maybe. Some people can take their own pictures and design their own logos, too. But if you’re an artist, you probably know how difficult it is to be objective about your music and career.
How long should a bio be?
Usually one page. If you’ve got a fascinating history–and it’s extremely well-written–a one and a half to two page bio is permissible.
How much should I pay a professional to write my bio?
$150-$350 is the standard rate in Los Angeles. Be involved: you can ask for drafts and rewrites.
Beware the hackneyed cliche, the imprecise metaphor, the goofy, strained adjective. “Joe Jones is a brilliant artist,” doesn’t show–it tells. “Sue Smith is destined for stardom,” is lame and off-putting. The bio must lead the reader to his own conclusions. Telling a reader what to feel or think may lead to the exact opposite impression. Double check for proper punctuation, grammar and spelling.
In constructing recording artist Harold Payne’s bio I used the global themes in his music to set the stage:
Do not include facts which don’t impact the music. For instance, it may be pertinent to say you ride horses if you have songs about horses, or have written songs while riding horses or can draw some correlation between horses and music. Otherwise, leave those horses in the pasture. Information about your educational background, work experience, broken marriage, prison term or dysfunctional childhood should be referenced only as it relates to the music.
Vocalist Suzanne Palache wanted a bio which would make the reader say, “ I have to meet this woman!” So I began:
For an intimate singer/songwriter:
As a journalist, I receive an average of fifteen to twenty major/indie label press kits weekly. There is no singular bio style which is appropriate for all of these artists. A seething, pierced neo-punk aggregation and a soothing, cerebral new-age artist can’t possibly share the same metaphors. Your bio must speak in the same voice as your music.