It’s a great time of year to overhaul promo materials. I’m using this Byte to kick off a mini series of posts on how to write a brilliant musician’s bio, as per a great suggestion from loyal Bytes subscriber, soprano Sarah Bellott (thanks, Sarah!) This week the focus is on Bio structure: the key components of a great bio. If you have a bio that you’d like to spruce up, or if you’re curious to test how effective your bio is, this post is for you. Let’s examine your Bio’s 5 key elements:
I recently got a terrific new perspective on bio writing from the fab Dallas Travers—she works primarily with actors but her excellent advice absolutely applies to musicians and arts administrators.
According to Dallas there are 5 key elements to writing an effective bio (and I’ve extrapolated on these to apply them to musicians):
1. Who’s your reader? Are you writing for a concert presenter who might book you? Fans who might buy your album? Is it prospective students who might study with you? You should have different bios for different purposes. So your teaching bio is different from your performance bio, and the version on your website should be different from what gets printed in concert programs.
2. What question does your bio answer? There should be a payoff for the reader, so think of key questions you are regularly asked. It might be why do you love certain repertoire, or why you chose your instrument or genre, how you approach programming, or for an ensemble’s bio: what drew the members together.
3. Establish your credibility. Yes, we need to know the impressive and relevant stuff, but don’t give us a boring laundry list of your credentials. Be selective: choose the items and details that convey the range of what you have to offer.
4. Share some vulnerability. This doesn’t mean showing weakness. Dallas says this is about revealing your human experience. This might come in the form of describing what first inspired you to become a musician, or describing your most moving experience with music (so you might actually cover this with #2).
5. Make an invitation. This can be explicit or implied: what is it you are offering readers? The chance to hear your new album? To catch your upcoming performances?
Challenge for the week: Find a bio that includes Dallas’ 5 elements. I’d LOVE to read what you find.
PS: Don’t be dismayed if you have trouble finding examples—great bios are unfortunately rare, but with these tips your bio can be a winner. And actually, the fact that most bios are boring and turnoff readers means you have a much better shot at making an impact with yours!
PSS: Stay tuned as nest week will dive into Bio-engineering to help you build a better bio.
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