Nowadays, musicians don’t need to be topping the vinyl and download charts to make waves in the industry. In the digital age, streaming platforms have made it easier than ever for independent artists to connect with millions of listeners. However, great music alone won’t get you noticed. If you’re serious about forging a lucrative career as a musician, you need to think about your branding. This all starts with putting together a first-rate artist bio.
Your artist bio is your calling card as a musician. It can be used to market yourself to new fans and industry professionals but is also an effective tool for creating a human connection with fans. Do you need to create an artist bio from scratch? Perhaps your current one is long overdue for an overhaul? Read on for everything you need to know to create a captivating artist bio that will get you noticed.
Understanding Your Audience
If you don’t have a handle on your audience, you don’t stand a chance at connecting with them with your musician bio. Thankfully, getting to grips with who your listeners are is easier than you might think. Have you been playing the live circuit for several years? Simply reading the room is a good start. Are you active on social media? Look at your followers on your go-to platforms to see the kind of people who are engaging with you as a performer.
Once you’ve gotten to grips with audience demographics, you can start putting together some pretty solid listener bios. Now you’re ready to fine-tune your artist bio accordingly. However, you don’t want to be too specific when speaking to that well-defined audience. While it makes sense to use your bio to appeal to an established fanbase, your bio is also a key marketing tool that you’ll need to entice new listeners, reach out to booking agents, and make professional connections in the industry.
Key Elements and Structure of an Artist Bio
Artist bios might be brief, but you’ll need to stick to a tried and tested formula to ensure the best results. Struggling to write artist bio information? Below is a foolproof structure for creating a captivating bio that will resonate with the right people.
As with a music press release, this is arguably the most difficult part of writing an artist bio. It can be tricky to concentrate who you are and what you’re about into a couple of sentences, but you need to hit the right notes here. You only need to look at the most successful artist bio examples to see what makes a solid introduction.
If you’re struggling to put together a crowd-pleasing sentence, it’s time to brainstorm. You’ll want to include the basics here, including your artist name and where you’re based. At this point, you should be able to define your sound and name a few influences. All of this information can be used to create a compelling opening statement. When you’re ready to put pen to paper, think carefully about tone. You can keep things light and cheerful if it fits with your artist persona, but there shouldn’t be any disconnect between the tone of the bio and the kind of musician you are.
Background and Influences
Now you’re ready to reveal a little more about yourself. As a performing artist, what’s your background? Are you brand-new to the scene or have you built up a sizable following playing live gigs? What singers and bands inspire you? This section should be relatively short, but it’s still crucial that you keep readers on tenterhooks by keeping things moving.
Achievements and Milestones
You might not be comfortable boasting about your achievements, but your artist bio is the perfect place for dropping a few names and flagging your career highlights. Even if you haven’t actually released anything yet, you might still have a background as a support artist. Have you played any noteworthy festivals or live music venues? This kind of information can also be included. Just remember to be honest in this section. It’s tempting to fold a few white lies into the mix, but in an online era, it’s incredibly easy for people to fact-check your claims.
Style and Genres
You might have already touched upon your musical style and influences, but it’s definitely worth going into more detail. You’ll appear more credible as an artist if you can express this coherently. Take a look at a few biography examples for artists and you’ll notice that just about everyone talks about who inspired them in their musical journey. All of this information can help build authenticity and can be a powerful tool for branding. However, avoid simply listing bands you enjoy and songs you listen to. You don’t want to appear as if you’re a shameless imitation of a more established artist. Instead, touch upon what makes you different and gives you a unique angle in a saturated industry.
Bring the personal touch to your artist bio by sharing an anecdote or two. This can be a quick snippet about how you opened for a well-known band or played a memorable set at a major festival. Rather than chalk it up as just another achievement, talk about how it made you feel. Don’t have any of these milestones to mention? Not to worry. Talk about the first time you picked up an instrument or the moment you first heard your favorite artist play on the radio. All of this builds a deeper, more personal connection with your audience.
Even the most successful musicians have unrealized goals. In your artist bio, talk about what your career ambitions are. It doesn’t have to be a list of all the awards you want to win within your career. Instead, talk about dream venues you want to play at or celebrated musicians you’d love to collaborate with. Don’t forget to include short-term goals as well. Do you have a new album in the pipeline? Tease your audience with a line or two about it.
Writing and Editing Tips
Your artist bio should be fairly short. In an ideal world, you don’t want to run beyond the 300-word mark. Start by pulling together loose ideas from the suggestions above. Once you have that, try and write a single 300-word paragraph that captures all those key points. If you’re already going over the word count before you start talking about your influences, you’ll know you’re in trouble.
It's the first sentence that is the most important, so prioritize this above all others. You’ll probably need to return to and revise this numerous times before your artist bio is ready to go, even if the rest falls into place.
In terms of style, you should be writing in the third person. As well as being the standard, including your artist name several times in the text can enhance online visibility. You’ll want to maintain a fairly neutral tone, but don’t drift into passive voice. Your sentences need to be clear and direct, so always affirm what you’re saying with an active voice.
Once you’ve got an artist bio you’re reasonably happy with, you’re ready to start proofreading and editing. You may want to break your bio down into several smaller paragraphs to enhance readability. When proofing your work, look for repeated phrases and replace them with synonyms if it improves the text.
Reviewing your own work for tone and style can prove difficult, so a fresh pair of eyes is always a good idea. Avoid asking a friend or family to do this and they may sugarcoat their response. Instead, turn to online music communities or someone you know in the industry for their opinion and suggestions. Don’t be afraid of constructive criticism and commit to regularly updating your bio with new information.
Examples of Great Artist Bios
The artist biography tips above are all well and good, but it often pays to see a few examples before attempting to create your own. Fortunately, you don’t have to look far to find great examples of artist biography entries.
Let’s start by taking a look at award-winning jazz singer Gregory Porter’s artist bio. Porter’s bio is slightly on the long side at 350 words, but there’s a substantial amount of detail here. It touches upon his childhood, his initial discovery of Nat King Cole which led to his love of music, and an abandoned career as an athlete. All of this is even before the bio mentions his first indie albums and initial Grammy nominations. The bio concludes with a quote from Porter about what music means to him, before rounding off with a spotlight mention of his sixth studio album, ALL RISE.
While your backstory might not be as enlightening as Gregory Porter's, you can take inspiration from the structure of his bio. Make sure you’re flagging the first time you connected with music and how you discovered your genre. If you have an upcoming single, EP, or album in the works, bringing your bio to a close with a mention of it is a great idea.
Next, let’s take a look at singer-actress Becky G’s bio. Things are a little more streamlined here, with her bio just over 200 words. It starts strong, touching upon record sales and awards won, not to mention her sideline as an actress. There’s also a mention of her signature hits, along with some jaw-dropping streaming statistics.
Your current streams probably fall far short of Becky G’s, but there’s a lot to learn about this artist bio. It acknowledges the current industry landscape, where streams and download numbers have replaced conventional record sales. Very few aspiring artists will have invested in physical releases, but they’ll almost certainly have released music online. Your streaming numbers likely don’t run into the seven-figure territory, but you can still focus on editorial playlists you might have been added to.
Optimizing for Online Presence
Writing an artist bio might seem like a chore, but it can form a key part of your creative promotional efforts. What’s more, if you’re making use of search engine optimization, you can boost your online visibility.
As mentioned previously, writing a bio in the third person provides you with plenty of chances to incorporate your artist name naturally. This alone can help visibility, but you also need to think about keywords. Select relevant keywords that you stand a good chance at ranking highly for. If your bio is on the longer side, you might want to break things up with header tags. As well as being easier to read, these tags will make it easier for search engine bots to crawl and index your online content.
It’s not just the text itself that needs to be optimized. Any images you’re adding to your artist bio can also be tweaked to improve search engine visibility. Adding alt text to your images makes your bio more accessible, but also carries some SEO value.
Adding Visual Appeal
It’s the words that will set your artist bio apart from the competition, but you can take things up a notch by choosing the best imagery. If you prefer to keep things simple, a standard artist portrait should suffice. Go for an image from a recent photoshoot that’s consistent with other photos you’re using elsewhere online. While a single image should be more than enough for a bio, you might want to fine-tune other visual elements like colors and fonts so that they’re more in line with your branding.
Start Working on That Artist Bio Today
Whether you’re creating content for your artist website, putting together an EPK, or crafting a press release, you’ll need a strong artist bio in place. If you’re still stumbling at the first hurdle, take a step back and decide whether you have a clear idea of your audience. Are you active on social media or a firm fixture of the live circuit? Putting together listener personas shouldn’t be a problem. Once you know who your audience is, you’re ready to start working on your bio.
Established artists have a little freedom here, but independent musicians would do well to include a solid introduction, some background about themselves, and who their musical influences are. There’s also room for spotlighting our achievements. Make sure you’re touching upon any career-defining moments or milestones, while also mentioning what your goals are for the future. As your bio is a key part of your branding, you should also spend plenty of time reviewing and editing your work. Reach out to fellow musicians for insights if you’re not sure whether your current bio is hitting the right mark.