When writing a resume it is important to customize the document to suit the industry and/or the job that you are applying for. As an artist, should the same be considered when writing your bio?
Writing a bio is probably one of the most frustrating tasks as an artist. What should and shouldn’t we be saying? How much is too much or too little? How long should it be? Do people actually read it?
Over the years I’ve read a lot of bios and a lot of them, for one reason or another were really bad, but I found that often the ones that were bad were only that way due to a small little thing that could’ve easily been fixed if the artist simply re-read their own bio before sending it out. Too often an artist will write their bio and then use the same bio over and over again for the next year or two, rarely updating it.
Mentioning that the artist is working on their new album to be released in the spring and it’s now winter of that same year.
Talking about being nominated for an award that was handed out to a different artist months earlier.
All included quotes are about how great the band is live when the press package the bio was included in was intended to promote the new album and there are no quotes about that.
All to often I find bios are filled with irrelevant information. When applying for a job, your resume shouldn’t list every job you’ve had in your entire life. If I created a document containing all of my work history, listing every single job, my resume would be over 20 pages long. If we’re taking the time to customize or resume specifically for the job we are applying for, why aren’t we doing the same for when writing a bio?
When trying to book shows, does our bio need to include information about having taken piano lessons since you were 8?
When applying for a grant, is it important to mention that you were the lead in your grade 4 Christmas pageant?
If someone is visiting your website for the first time do they need to know about the 5 other guitarist your band had before ever even recording anything?
Much like a resume, your bio will create a first impression for those who read it. Think about who your audience is going to be and what information will be important to them.
Surprisingly this seems to be a foreign concept
I googled “customizing your bio” and I mainly got articles on how to make your bio interesting and your own. Nothing about customizing it for the audience it is intended for. A couple of these sites suggested having multiple versions of your bio ready, but they all emphasized the importance of having a short, medium and long bio…something I’ve often talked about myself…and being able to use which ever one is needed when you need to. This is close to what I’m saying, but forgets to mention the obvious. When you go to use one of these ready and waiting bio’s make sure you read it first and do the necessary updates. Seems obvious, but you’d be surprised how many I’ve seen that are obviously out of date.
I don’t know if there are many who will agree with me on this. I know, even for myself, the idea of writing a specific bio customized for the target audience every time I apply for something is daunting. But I can’t help but wonder how much more effective my bio might have been if it I took that time to customize it.
What do you think? Do you agree? Disagree? Don’t think it matters?