Make sure your story looks awesome wherever you are
The music industry is not just about how you sound, but also about how you appear. Every time you sign up to a new social network or music website you have to add some text about yourself, so people know why they should pay attention to your music. Writing about yourself might be boring, embarrassing, difficult or weird, but it’s a very important part of your presence online. So here’s how to get it right.
You will probably need three biogs: one-liner, short biog and long biog.
This can be the hardest thing to write because editing your whole life story and all your musical projects down to one sentence is difficult. So don’t even try to do that, it’s impossible, just relax.
First of all remember that you are telling your story as a music professional, creating a persona for people to follow, love, respect and work with. The past doesn’t matter much here, the present and the future are much more interesting. Nobody cares where you went to school or what bands you aren’t in any more.
First of all just think of the most important things you do in the music industry right now. Be honest here because lying doesn’t work unless your marketing budget is over one million dollars. Remember that the reader has absolutely no idea what you do, so spell it out clearly. For example: “Composer and pianist”, “Lighting engineer and VJ”, “Electric guitarist in a reggae band”.
Then think of what inspires you, where you’re going, what gets you out of bed in the morning. You can be a bit exciting and exaggerate here, but remember to be specific to what you do. For example: “Breaking boundaries in modular synthesis”, “Smashing up stages all over the world”, “Releasing the best drumnbass vinyl on the planet”, “Exploring the possibilities of harmony”.
Aaaaand… that’s it. Add some emojis if you want. Job done.
Now anybody reading your one-liner will instantly know what you do and what you’re aiming for. This means that if they are looking for someone like you, they will know they’ve found someone like you. If they are not looking for someone like you, there’s no point in lying to attract them or being vague and mysterious, they will find out sooner or later that you’re not interesting anyway. Just be clear and be yourself.
Many sites offer you the opportunity to add a short biog, for example on your Spotify Artist page. This is an advert for how interesting and awesome you are, it’s not supposed to be a boring list of facts. It’s a short movie not a long documentary.
It will sound much more professional if you write in the third person (he, she) rather than in the first person (I, me). It will feel weird pretending not to be you, but you’re just going to have to get through this.
Before you write your short biog, read other biogs of people you respect, people you follow, people who are in the same field or genre. You’re not going to copy these people, but it helps to put lots of useful stuff into your brain before you start writing. Your brain will subconsciously bring out the best ideas for you later if you relax and go with the flow.
Break it down into three sections.
Start with the basic information about who you are and what you do. This is like a three line version of your oneliner. Remember not to lie, just say what you do and what’s unique about your approach.
In the middle, it’s important to talk about your references, your accomplishments, the reasons why people should care about you and pay attention to you. If you graduated from a prestigious music college then that’s important, but you don’t need to list every school you ever went to. You should talk about your most successful releases, the best and most well-known people you have worked with, the blogs and magazines that have written about you. You can even include your friends’ and fans’ comments if you aren’t super famous yet. If you’re not a performer, you should include where you have worked and what your employers said about you.
The main idea here is to show that you have done stuff and that other people, not just your mother, rate you and your stuff highly. People naturally give more trust to people who are rated highly by other people.
But this isn’t a CV, this is an advertisement. Keep it short and sweet and then end with something entertaining, uplifting, ambitious, memorable. Being memorable is most important. If you know how to drive a tractor or you keep bees or you ride bicycles naked or you make your own hats, you should definitely mention that. Don’t be perfect, be different.
In this hectic world of short attention spans you probably don’t need a long biog any more, in fact it’s amazing you are still reading this guide. Nobody reads things this long. But maybe, sometime, you might need to tell a journalist or an employer your full life story, so it’s a good idea to have a long biog written and ready to send off as soon as anyone asks for it.
The long biog is actually the easiest thing to write. You already have your short biog, you just need to add in all the details you left out when you were keeping the short biog short.
Start at the beginning and go through the most important events until the present day. Let the reader know “everything about you”, well… everything you want them to know.
You can put a full discography in here, why not. Or a full list of your previous jobs in the industry. Or both.
Remember quality is more important than quantity, so don’t fill up your long biog with irrelevant or boring information. If you’re just starting your career then your long biog won’t be very long. That’s OK.
Break the rules
It’s totally OK if you think all this advice is wrong and you want to do something different. If you have the confidence and the imagination to do your own thing, then you should probably just go ahead and do it. Or maybe you should get a friend to do it for you, find someone who has a nice biog and ask them who wrote it. The most important thing is you should be comfortable with the final result. People are going to read your biog and quote from it and ask you about it, so make sure it reflects who you are and what you want to be.
Tim Schaufert has more than 200k monthly listeners on Spotify and his short biography is “I am great at making lasagna and struggle with bios”, so remember there is no right or wrong. Just be you.
One last thing
But please, never, ever say “I started learning piano from the age of four”. Nobody cares. Most musicians started playing music when they were kids, it’s nothing special. Be special!