I've mentioned before that I am a fan of Angela Beeching's Monday Bytes.
A recent Monday Byte, Your Bio’s 5 Elements, focused on how to write an effective Bio. You know that dreaded paragraph; a 500 word snapshot of your entire life and career. (What first caught my eye about the Byte was the painting - I Saw the Figure 5 in Gold, 1928, by Artist Charles Demuth - Lancaster, Pennsylvania 1883–1935, a favorite in our home.)
Musicians are frequently asked to provide bio's for press releases, brochures, programs, festivals, competitions and websites. Quite often the request will come with a deadline of about 2 hours (which has happened to me!). So, I try to have an current bio on hand which can be quickly adjusted.
If you are stumped about how to create your first musician's bio, or just want to spruce up an old one, Beeching provides some sound guidance and thought-provoking tips:
5 Key Elements to Writing an Effective Bio
1. Who’s your reader? -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?"
In taking Ms. Beeching's advice, I am currently working on two bios - #1 - Performance and #2 - Education/Teaching.
Something else to consider is a bio's length. Sometimes the length is specified and sometimes not, but typically they are 500 words or the more difficult 100 word synopsis. It's good to have both on hand. Create a few samples and have them at-the-ready in hopes of avoiding yet another deadline!