The Dance Music Guide to Writing a Bio

By Evie Lavers - October 11, 2015

By Cyclone
Every music act needs a good bio. Bios are useful sources of info – and resources – for industry-types (including prospective agents, bookers and promoters), the media and, of course, consumers and fans. Often event and tour publicists 'sample' artists' bios for press releases – and that's exactly what they're for. There's no copyright on bios, as such. Some acts' bios even mysteriously appear as Wikipedia entries… It's all about sharing the info you want to share about your music. You should upload your bio onto your Website, Facebook, SoundCloud – anywhere people go to find out about, or listen to, you. If you don't want journos to ask the same ol' questions in interviews ("How did you start?"), pre-empting them in a bio can save you a lot of zzz regurgitation. But where to begin?

1. There are two bio templates. The traditional record label bio reads a bit like a feature article with interview quotes. The obvious advantage is that you can leave out parts of your story that you don't wish to publicise – such as any dodgy tracks issued under old handles or that studio moonlighting gig for a Z-grade Katy Perry wannabe. The second model is a summary of your career and achievements – without quotes. Many DJ/producers prefer the latter because of the TLDR ('too long, didn't read') factor. The standard bio for an album act is around 800 words. The longest bio this writer has ever seen was Gilles Peterson's – it was like a Tolkien book, but he's kinda earned that right (and, yo, he attracts über-geeks).
2. Keep your bio flossy, and descriptive, but it should still cover the basic facts. Those 'Five Ws' commonly used in journalism. Nah, we don't mean your top five Wu-Tang Clan members, but 'Who/What/Where/When/Why' (and maybe 'How'). If you're making cheesy bandwagon-hopping shit, the 'Why' is gonna be especially important, LOL!

3. Most acts claim that they don't want their music labelled or 'pigeonholed' – understandable. But it's good to offer clues to people – or anchorage. If you're worried about being attached to the latest buzz sub-genre, then go for something broad: 'house', 'techno', 'progressive', 'garage', 'bass', etc. Alternatively, you can be creative and invent a genre – like, say, metrowave (= futuristic urban music). A few of today's genre names originated with the producers. Detroit's Belleville Three (Juan Atkins, Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson) adapted the term 'techno' from Alvin Toffler's The Third Wave (as in 'Techno Rebels'). It kinda stuck. Down the line, Porter Robinson conceived 'complextro'. AC Slater coined 'night bass' to denote his post-EDM style, and it's also become a cool countercultural brand. At the very least, your bio should mention relevant, contextual influences (if you're producing trap, lauding Fleetwood Mac is just gonna confuse peepz).
4. Electronic dance music is also big on the anti-bio – info that is either formulated or non-existent. Indeed, there is a long tradition of acts revelling in mystique: Kraftwerk, The KLF, Underground Resistance, Drexciya, Daft Punk, Burial… The most compelling create a narrative or generate their own mythology. What's more, they have some kind of rationale, rather than it being an obvious marketing novelty – or digital conceit. Seasoned acts have used mystique to cleverly reinvent themselves. Theo Keating of The Wiseguys brilliantly did this with the viral Fake Blood. Today's anonymous acts include Slow Magic, Claptone and Shiba San. If you choose this path, be clever, imaginative and/or subversive – not half-assed. Introducing yourself as merely "Tom from [insert suburb here]" is wack. Same with something like, "Masked alien robot SpaceChild fell to earth from Mars with his asteroids of bass-thump." That's kinda played-out, dawg. Above all, consistency is key.
5. If all this sounds too hard, commission a music journo to write your bio for you. Fees vary, but most will work with your budget. Crucially, make sure you know what you want first. Think about your music, art, how you want to position yourself and what you want to convey. It saves a lot of second-guessing – and revisions.

From Evie: Cyclone Wehner has written bios for the Detroit label Transmat (Aril Brikha), Kelis, Jessica Mauboy and Hiatus Kaiyote. We've teamed together not only to bring you this guide but to also offer you the opportunity to get a bio written by Cyc, for a very nice price! EMAIL me for deets;

Join Cyclone in the World of Twitter @therealcyclone n Facey here!

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