How to Write a Better Biography for Your Website
**Guest post written by Wade Sutton of Rocket to the Stars.
"Biographies for singers and bands probably rank second on the list of things most prone to be screwed up on an artist's website (improper use of an e-mail collector being the first).
The problem is a vast majority of biographies on websites are written by either the artist or the individual hired to construct the website (in which case they write the biography based upon what the client says they want in it). And when you take into consideration that the best web bios are the ones that combine elements of both journalism and marketing, well, you can see why problems arise.
I understand that not every band wants to or has the money available to have a biography written by a professional. I also know that many songwriters assume (wrongly) that their above average songwriting skills translate to above average biography writing skills. So what can you do to make YOUR biography better should you choose to attempt to write it on your own?
...Be Brief and make every word count for something...
I once referred to a band's website biography as a "surgical strike". They need to be short and concise and there has to be a sense of efficiency in word usage. The shorter the biography, the more value each word holds.
Why is this so important? Because statistics show that nearly 50% of Internet users are accessing websites via mobile devices, most of them being phones. How many people do you know will sit and read large amounts of text on those tiny little screens (assuming the site is even friendly to mobile devices to begin with)? Music fans, the people who will be going to your website, are almost always looking for small doses of information that are easy to process and easier to remember.
Unfortunately many of you have a tendency to include in your biography what feels like every little detail of your singing careers. One of the biggest offenses is rattling off all of the singing competitions you have won or participated in. I hate to be the one to break this news to you but, unless you won something like A.I. or The Voice, most fans simply are not going to care. This holds even more true when you are attempting to market yourself on a national or international level. Why would somebody in Dallas, Texas be impressed by you winning a local singing competition in central Ohio? If the competition didn't make you famous, don't waste space in your biography talking about it because it won't help your fans connect with you. Your biography isn't a blog or a diary. Keep it short.
...Stay away from industry and technical talk...
I think some singers and bands spend so much time talking to people within their own industry that it results in them forgetting how to properly communicate with somebody NOT involved in music. And, yes, that includes the fans visiting your websites.
Think about how many biographies for bands you have seen that talk about things like producers and songwriters they have worked with, technical terms that only musicians or sound engineers would know, and vocal techniques. Newsflash: casual fans visiting your website have no clue what the hell you are talking about and they stop reading as soon as they come across industry talk that is over their heads. So, in those cases, your biographies are doing exactly the opposite of what they are meant to do.
I recently helped a singer in Texas with his biography and the bullet points he sent me mentioned a producer with whom he worked with on a previous CD. The singer was trying to use his website to market himself on a national level (and promote his upcoming EP) but the producer's name wasn't really known outside of Austin. There was absolutely no reason to have the guy's name eating up space in those few paragraphs. If it doesn't connect with a casual music fan, it should not be in your biography.
...Sometimes your personal milestones aren't what fans will find most interesting about you...
As an artist trying to impress current fans while creating new ones, you obviously want to open your biography by putting your best foot forward. But what happens when the things you are most proud of are not what the person reading the biography will find the most interesting? This happens far more than you realize.
I was hired not too long ago to write a biography for a performer and one of the first things he told me about himself was that he had a song hit #4 on Billboard's country single sales chart in 2003. It was obvious from our discussion that this was an accomplishment he was very proud of. But then I started asking him questions about what made him decide to pursue a career in singing...and the story he told me was amazingly interesting. It turned out that he discovered his love for singing while dancing professionally for M.C. Hammer. Not only did he dance during some of the show's on Hammer's world tour, he also appeared with Hammer in some of his television commercials for the British Knights shoe company.
Many of you are probably reading this and thinking, "But he had a song chart at #4 on Billboard! How is THAT not the most important point of his biography?" This is why: Music fans constantly hear stories about artists having songs rank on the Billboard charts. They hear it so much it just goes in one ear and out the other. They aren't music industry people so, while they think it is cool, two weeks later they won't remember the specifics. But the story about him finding his love of singing while dancing with M.C. Hammer? That is something people will remember and, more importantly, talk about. Reaching your personal milestones, no matter how great they are, at times will not mean very much to a casual music fan.
Always remember the overwhelming majority of people reading your biography are casual music fans. Write your website's biography to communicate with them with that in mind."
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After spending nearly twenty years as a professional radio journalist and writer, Rocket to the Stars creator Wade Sutton now helps singers and bands all over world advance their music careers. He offers professional writing services (bios, press releases, EPKs), live performance training and live show production, and music business and media consultations. With clients throughout North America and Europe, Wade's articles have been read by people in more than twenty countries and have been shared by top music industry officials and voice instructors, marketing experts, radio stations, and artists. You can learn more about him and his services at www.RockettotheStars.com.