A bio is the cement that holds a press kit
together. It should:
1. Create an identity.
2. Define a musical style.
3. Lead the reader directly to the music.
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
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
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
$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:
One hundred years ago Harold Payne would have jumped freight
trains or stowed away on tramp steamers. He would have written
novels like Jack London, painted portraits of exotic womanhood
like Paul Gaugin and been a guide through steaming jungles
from the furthest outposts of civilization.
In these days of the jet plane, Harold Payne uses songs,
his voice and a guitar to traverse a global road from Chiang
Mai to Moscow, from Bali to Bora-Bora. He's sung in Singapore,
strummed in Samoa, dreamed in Hindu temples and jammed with
itinerant street musicians in Ireland. He shares it all
on his new Affinity Records release, Pass It On.
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:
Suzanne Palache has enough energy to power a small fleet
of motor vehicles. It's a fuel that burns full-throttle,
ignited by the heat of her soulful voice and the power and
passion of her performance.
For an intimate singer/songwriter:
Tim Gales writes simple songs about complex things: love,
family, home, heaven. Phrases turn, emotions connect, melodies
soar. You sing along even though you've never heard the
tune before. Tim writes from a perspective of distances,
of interludes between lovers and lives and the roads that
lead from small towns to big cities.
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.
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.
Dan can be reached at: 323-344-0599 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
musician bio information