The Dreaded Bio: 7 Tips
Writing a biography is a necessary evil in the business of the Performing Arts. This is something you should invest in, if you are not comfortable. However, you can help the bio writer or yourself, by following these 7 tips.
#1. Please, do not use quotations with zero reference. I see this more often than one might imagine. ex. Singer X has “the world’s greatest voice”…ok, that’s a fake example, but you get what I’m saying, right? You must reference the quote, either in brackets (ie. “incredible tone” (New York Times)) or use the source in the sentence (ie. The New York Times praised her “incredible tone”…)
#2. If you’re a working professional musician, please put your education at the bottom. Why? If you put the education at the top, you will sound like a student off the bat and I assume you don’t want to sound that way unless you are a student or straight out of school. In any case, I would advise education to go near the end, if not at the end.
#3. Do not list ALL of your gigs. Always keep in mind that someone is actually reading your bio in programs – real people. They need to be somewhat captivated, if you list every gig and location…. zzzzz pick the gigs that best highlight who you are as an artist. You will likely list your high profile work paired with some less high profile that capture your artistic spirit.
#4. Near the top of your bio, if not the beginning, try to describe who you are as an artist in ONE sentence. What are you known for? What do you want to be known for? Who do you think you are?
#5. Cater to your audience. You do not need to only have ONE bio, you can adapt! ie. if you are performing in your hometown, then you can speak about your history there, but when you’re making a major debut elsewhere, cut that out and replace with different highlights.
#6. Be current always. You need to be proactive about this. When you take a gig, ask about the bio (how many words? Is there a specific format required for your company? May I have examples of bios your company likes?)
#7. Let go of the old. This ties into #6 and #3, but it deserves its own point because I read a lot of bios that reference things from 8 years ago or more… people want to know you’re working NOW and RECENTLY.
Each of these points carries a common theme: be concise always.