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How to… write an artist biography

Words: Chantelle Fiddy

Whether you’re a new artist or established on a major record label, an artist biography is essential. 

An essential tool for journalists, bloggers, radio, TV and beyond to learn about you, with streaming sites also encouraging you to upload a biography, a biog can whet the appetite of fans and supporters too. 

While a successful artist may employ somebody to write their biography, it’s actually an interesting exercise for any artist to undertake; as well as providing an opportunity for self-reflection, encouraging you to think about yourself from a different perspective, it helps you nail key points that may come up in interviews as your status grows. 

So, what makes a good biography? 

Think of it as a two-pronged approach;

–   It’s the who, what, why, where, when around you and your story

–   It’s also dangling a carrot… will the information stoke the interest of the reader?

Really, it’s part sales, part informative.

Your biog has never been more important due to social media, SEO, and the need to give people information in the easiest to digest format. Your biog needs to work for all of them.

I recommend doing a long version (usually one side of A4) and then a shorter, condensed version (say one or two paragraphs) for socials.

As a starting point, think about where you want to ‘sit’:

Who do you see as your peers?

Think of yourself as a brand. What do you stand for?

What do you want people to take away from your music?

As you’re writing your biog, you need to delve deep into your inner workings.
Talking about yourself can be hard but it’s a skill that’s necessary.
However, do consider the level of truth you want to put out there; are you playing a role as a performer or wearing your heart totally on your sleeve? 

Essentially you’re interviewing yourself AND finding clever ways to shoe-horn as much information as possible in as fewer words as possible. We want vibes but to the point. Don’t waffle, say something. 

Here are some of my go-to questions/ areas to develop (this also shapes the flow of the biography as the structure stays roughly the same);

Beginnings – this ranges from where you’re born to where you might be living now (e.g “born in Scotland but now residing in Birmingham”).

Roots in music – where/ how did this begin? Sow the seeds.

The sound – how do you convey this in a unique but understandable way?

Inspiration – think out the box, the less obvious choices stand out. Also this doesn’t just have to be music. What else inspires your music? Could be ANYTHING!

Recap – if applicable, summarise your relevant career info thus far, from releases to key achievements (e.g radio support, funding, festival or live highlights). 

Hobbies – We’re not literally going to write ‘my hobbies are’… But look at what’s right in front of you, you might not realise what’s interesting. It could be that you do all of your own artwork or spend your evening volunteering at a local shelter. Adding this in gives us colour. 

Aspirations – what’s coming next for you (don’t include dates, keep it general or you’ll have to keep updating your biog) and what’s your ultimate goal/ hope etc?

Bring it back together to conclude. 

Ending is often hardest bit – if in doubt, phone a friend!

Tips:

Avoid use of first person, write in third person (no ‘I’).

Avoid cliché e.g R&B as smooth as a melted bar of Cadburys/

Avoid obvious references e.g. there was a phase every rap biog mentioned Drake/

You’re best writing less if there’s not much to report – keeping it punchy and to the point is just as powerful as an A4 doc full of achievements.

Get creative if you’re struggling, play with the idea of yourself as a character or alter ego.

Get (trusted) eyes to read your biog before you deem it a finished article incase you’re missing something obvious. 

Click here to read the short biographies for our Industry Takeover speakers 

Follow Chantelle Fiddy on Twitter & Instagram

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