By Mike O'Cull
Your artist bio probably stinks and that’s a problem.
The weakest part of most artists’ press kit or EPK is their bio.
People will drop big money on studio time, photos, Facebook ads, and a hot-shit website and then try to tie it all together with a bio that sounds like it was written by their sixth-grade cousin.
It used to be that most artists didn’t see many other press kits except their own but those days are gone forever. Go check out the sites and socials of any artist who’s really hooking it up and you’ll find well-written copy that communicates who they are, what they’ve done, and why you should care.
Do some research and you’ll see that you need a great bio that’ll get both new fans and talent buyers excited. A proper bio speaks for you when you’re not there to speak for yourself. It tells your PR story in a way that fits your persona as an artist and makes people want to know more about you and what you do.
I’ve been covering music in print and online since the mid-1990s and have had the benefit of seeing thousands of artists bios in that time, from major rock stars to local cover bands, and I’ve learned what makes a bio work and what gets it deleted.
I’ve also worked with hundreds of artists on bios and other press materials, getting their vibe and identity dialed into where they need to be. Whether you’re writing for yourself or hiring someone like me to help craft your image, here are a few things I’ve learned about getting it right!
1 - YOUR ARTIST BIO ISN’T YOUR LIFE STORY!
Your bio shouldn’t be a chronological retelling of your life from birth to today. Nobody cares about what bands you used to be in that didn’t make it or that you played viola in junior high. A proper bio is about what you’re doing right now, first and foremost. The first few lines need to communicate that in a way that makes people want to keep reading. Your name, genre, latest release, and label need to be there, along with the biggest credits you have to brag about. Remember, this is sales copy and you want to start out strong.
2 - PEOPLE BUY YOUR “WHY!”
The world doesn’t need any of us in order to listen to music of any style. The trick to getting new fans to listen to you and not someone else in your genre often comes down to your “why story.” People want to know why you make your music, what inspires you, and what keeps you motivated. They want to relate and identify with you. What you’re selling a potential fan is a relationship with you, a connection, a chance to know you. Every artist will do this differently but it’s the heart of your bio, so think carefully about what you want to say.
3 - KEEP IT SHORT!
In this era of the internet's attention span, a shorter bio is much more likely to get read all the way through. The people you’ll be sending your press kit to are all flooded with artists fighting for a spot. They won’t read three pages about you. If you’re already famous and have a large fan base, you can go longer but most bands will be better served by two or three great paragraphs. Keep it tight and you’ll get much better results.
4 - END WITH A CALL TO ACTION!
Don’t end your story with a low-energy whimper. Use a strong call to action to get the person reading to hit your website right now. Literally tell them to listen to your new record, book you, or immediately investigate you further. Steer people where you want them to go.
If all of this sounds like a lot, don’t worry. It actually is a lot to think about. Most artists are also not always comfortable writing about themselves and will avoid the task.
If this sounds like your situation, let me help make your artist bio the best it can be. I’ve written over 500 bios in the last two years, alone, and know I can help you craft an artist bio that makes fans, bookers, and bloggers want to hear you today! Visit me online at www.mikeocull.com to get in touch!