A form of writing guilty of more crimes against the English language than ‘Fifty Shades Of Grey’, featuring grand fiction, outright lies and entire life histories compacted into some of the most meaningless and mundane passages ever written in human history. That’s not to belittle the task that is upon us; the prospect of writing about yourself is not an easy pill to swallow and has seen grown men (and women) cowering at the prospect, sweat brimming on their foreheads as they stare hopelessly into an empty word document.
Enough I hear you say.
Let MYT guide you in the dark arts of writing your own artist biography, hopefully showing you how to navigate the murky waters of shaping your own career in to an engaging and entertaining yarn without throwing the proverbial turd in the works which scatters booking agents and promoters in it’s wake. Biographies are whether we like it or not, an essential part of our branding as an artist, a necessary evil that can, when done well, allow you to reach not only your audience but open up new and deep connections with potential fans and followers.
By rights you should have more information about yourself and your career than Cambridge Analytica has on the average UK voter.
It’s now time to dig deep into that mine of data, reconnect all those frazzled brain cells and put those hazy memories down on paper. Remembering (hopefully) the who, where, what and when. At first just get everything down before starting to sift through and select the key information much like a photographer selecting the best shots.
Yes believe it or not some people out there have short as shit attention spans. Hopefully you are still reading at this point and if not well that just goes to prove my point. Artist biographies need to be concise and pack a punch, so make every word count, only picking information that is relevant and interesting. Your audience definitely need to know the most highly respected labels you have released on; they most definitely do not need to know that you can play grade three recorder.
Yes you heard me correctly. Look we are not going all Being John Malkovich here but it is necessary for you to try and form a professional detachment from what you have done in order to write about it. Writing about yourself is undoubtedly an uncomfortable and squirm inducing process but by thinking about the key questions you would want to ask your favourite artist or producer, you can generate useful questions which will pique the curiosity of your followers and potential fans. If you are struggling to think of these question, check out some interviews in online articles or just you use the questions at end of this piece to help give you a starting point. Essentially these need to be questions that hook into the truth of why you make music, the impact you want it to have and the message you are trying to express.
Still struggling with the idea of writing about yourself. Delve deeper in to the world of multiple personalities and explore writing in both first and third person. Try starting in first person and then re-writing it in third person to give a more professional feel. This might make the initial process feel more comfortable and clear up those blank page blocks.
Stories and storytelling are fundamental to human experience, they unite people, help us make sense of the world and enable us to form deeper connections with each other. This is a fact not lost on the marketing departments of major companies who use storytelling as a powerful tool to drive deeper engagement. Rather than simply a list of dry facts this is your chance to become a storyteller and realise that your story has power. It is a means by which people can identify with you and your brand, so focus on any unique aspects of your journey so far, whether that be that you gave up a particular career to pursue music or followed an unusual route in to production. Zoom in on any emotional details that will enable your audience to remember your story more vividly. For example you might explore the decisive moment that led to the decision to become a music producer. What was that lightbulb moment or experience that made you commit to pursuing a career in electronic music?
As I think I mentioned in the opening paragraph some artist biographies are guilty of entering the realm of fiction rather quickly and sometimes proceed to nose dive into downright lies. You should be proud and confident in what you have achieved so far, so select and showcase the best labels you have released on, gigs you have played and artists you have worked with. They will undoubtedly provide valuable social evidence of your achievements and should not be down played. However writing authentically and from the heart will make you much more relatable and have a greater impact on your audience than coming across as an egotistical name-dropping narcissist.
Don’t expect to instantly have some Hunter S Thompson flair for this, you are going to need to edit the hell out this piece to make it snappy. Your first draft might be long and that’s fine. Then be brutal. You need to get to work with your metaphorical scalpel taking out all the unnecessary detail until you are left with something that is super punchy and razor sharp. Version it out until you have a few different forms of the bio; you may need for example a shorter one or two paragraph version for sites like Soundcloud with a more detailed bio reserved for your electronic press kit. If you are not that great at writing then get a trusted friend to proof read your efforts and give you some honest feedback.
Artist biographies lead naturally to parody and have become the fodder for jokes within the industry. There are so many shockers out the it is easy to fall into the trap of cliché (Just check RA’s DJ Bio Madlibs). Throwing in unnecessary words like ‘electic’ for the sake of it or worse cringe inducing childhood memoirs like ‘Michael began drumming at the tender age of..’ do your branding harm. Avoid them where at all possible.
Whilst writing your own biography can seem like a daunting and unenviable task, it actually has great value. Putting down on paper your past accomplishments and developing a professional detachment from them can allow you to review and reframe how you view your career so far. If you are early on in your career then don’t be put off. Focus instead on what you stand for, want to achieve, the impact you want to have and how you want to impress your musical blue print on others.
Still struggling? Not all of us are natural born writers with music production often our primary skillset.
Nevertheless having a professional and engaging biography is vital.
Investing in a professional journalist to do the job is therefore not a bad call.
Journalists read hundreds of artist biographies giving them a keen sense for what works and what doesn’t.
And that’s where MYT might be able to help, as our MYT AAA Members have access to professional journalist and biography writer Gerraint Rees, who has written features articles in the past for major outlets such as Decoded magazine.