6 Steps To A Winning Band Biography
Congratulations! If you’re reading this, you’re already ahead of 99% of your competition. You’re taking your music career seriously and paying attention to every last detail. That’s a great thing. In this article, we’ll help you polish your professional presentation skills and show you how to write a winning band biography.
Step 1: Remember and respect the reader.
Picture an overworked and underpaid A&R intern, sifting through thousands of email submissions. He’s exhausted, cranky, and his girlfriend dumped him last night. Sitting in a bored, numb fog, all he wants to do is sleep. His easily-angered boss only has time to hear one band out of all those submissions. The submission list has been neglected for years. It’s a bottomless pit of musical hopes and dreams – and the intern has to find the Next Big Thing somewhere within. His future at the label depends on this.
Your job, when writing your band’s biography, is to help that A&R intern out.
Step 2: Avoid boring stories.
This might sound harsh, but it’s true: The majority of people in the world don’t care about you; they care about what you can do for them. We’re all the stars of our own heroic stories, in our own minds at least – but in the music business (as in any business), expect people to follow the above principle.
This isn’t nice and it isn’t fair; it’s just the way it is. But, there is another side to this truth. If you focus on helping others and what you can do for them, they will love you forever.
Let’s return to our heartbroken A&R intern. Two hours in, and he’s almost ready to quit. He’s constantly switching between the email submission list and his ex’s Twitter page. Last night, an hour after she dumped him, she posted a picture of herself standing in a club wearing jeans with ‘COME AND GET IT’ written across her butt. The three-hundredth submission starts like this:
“RockBand1 were first formed when Bob met Jane and Tim at secondary school and they were put in a tutor group together. Bob had been playing drums for 7 weeks and Jane had been playing guitar for 5 weeks. Tim didn’t play an instrument but Bob and Jane made him pick up his now-trusty Fender Stratocaster and he’s not put it down ever since. The trio jammed a lot until their GCSEs were done and Tim met James in Business Studies class at college and found out James could sing…”
The A&R intern considers browsing a mail-order bride website and switching to a career in telesales.
Step 3: Keep it simple.
The next band (WeWillRockU) followed two simple rules: Keep it simple, and be sure to mention your home genre as quickly as possible. WeWillRockU’s submission reads like this:
WeWillRockU. No-nonsense rock, direct from Guildford. In your face and coming to a venue near you.
Our hero’s ears prick up. Maybe he checks out their Bandcamp page, linked just below the text. WeWillRockU’s biography has done its job: Help that A&R intern out, and get him listening to the music as quickly as possible. But it’s not quite there yet. WeWillRockU have made it into his shortlist, but that list is still dozens of bands long – and filled with biographies like the one above.
Step 4: Add more detail as your career progresses.
RockBand2 are more established, and their biography reads like this:
“The greatest rock songs I’ve ever heard and a phenomenal live act. Stunning.”
–The Musical Melting Pot
Festival favourites WeWillRockU play hard-hitting alt-rock. Over 100,000 people watched the video for their latest single, ‘Hit’. Hard-working and hungry for more, WeWillRockU will not stop until their fans are satisfied.
When you’re just starting out, keeping it simple works best. Once you have newsworthy statements to add to your basic biography framework, it’s important to remember to keep it simple and avoid bragging. Egotistical and boastful biographies are very common – but it’s likely to suggest that you’re more trouble than you’re worth. Play it humble, and back that up with a down-to-earth attitude in real life when dealing with the industry, and you’ll make more friends than enemies.
Also remember that if you focus on helping others and what you can do for them, they will love you forever. RockBand2 hit the nail on the head by emphasising their work ethic (which labels love) and their dedication to their fanbase.
Step 5: A good quote is worth more than an endless story.
As well as keeping things simple, humble, and friendly to our near-suicidal A&R intern, RockBand2 are not relying solely upon their own words to sell their music. Quotes from positive reviews help their cause immensely, due to a psychological principle known as ‘social proof’. In other words, if enough people are seen to be doing something, others are likely to assume it’s the correct thing to do.
If your job is to find the Next Big Thing, and you see others hailing RockBand2 as that Next Big Thing, you’re going to pay more attention to RockBand2. Success in the music business is very much centred around building enough social proof to draw an evangelical crowd of supporters – and that doesn’t just mean fans, but also industry insiders who can help take you to that next level. This process is also known as ‘buzz-building’, and it’s absolutely critical that you pay attention to it when crafting your biography. If you don’t have a buzz around you right now, start working on it today.
Step 6: Everybody wins.
Three years later. Thanks to his discovery of RockBand2, the A&R intern now runs the whole department. He’s the toast of the industry, and learned yesterday that his ex’s latest boyfriend turned out to be a drug dealer and is now in prison. RockBand2 sit down at a press conference to promote their next arena tour while the man who discovered them looks on proudly.
Most importantly: Good luck!