File Under: Creating and Maintaining Your Persona
As musicians, we have to do more than make our music, we also need to talk and write about the music too. You need to have three versions of the story behind your music ready to go at all times to make it easier for you to get other people interested in your music.
These stories are usually called "bios" -- short for biographies -- but some people miss that what they really are is a tease to get the reader to want to find out more. You want to intrigue fans to listen to your music, journalists to write about you, and bookers to contact you to play live. If your stories aren't getting people to listen to the music or ask more questions about you, keep improving them until they do.
The three versions you’ll need are: one sentence, one paragraph, and one page. These stories are for more than press kits, they are going to be used in person, as well as in every social media platform and web presence that you are on, so they are worth taking the time to put together.
1. One Sentence.
The one sentence version is what you will use most often when you're talking to someone to intrigue them to ask more about you and your music. But it also comes up in social media platforms that only give you a handful of characters to talk about yourself, such as Twitter.
If you've got an achievement such as receiving an award, getting some news coverage, playing at a famous venue, or charting, add that to the story. For example, we've successfully used: "We are a horn-based geek rock band that released a song each day for a year -- 365 songs." Also, you might have a few one sentence alternatives aimed at a particular audience. For a potential licensee, we say: "We've licensed music to Disney and Viacom, and written soundtracks to TV shows."
If you’re just starting out and don't have a lot to draw on yet, you should focus on something unique to your music and genre or base your ideas on what other groups have done that have a similar sound. For example, before we achieved our licensing deals and did our TheSongOfTheDay.com project, we focused on our live show and our unique instrumentation to describe the music in just a few words, such as: "We're a pop-rock band with horns...and the occasional accordion." Just experiment and see what works and what doesn't.
2. One Paragraph.
You'll need a one paragraph story for social media profiles, website "about pages", and emails to people who don't know you yet. Here you can talk about basic facts about your music, your hometown, style, accomplishments, etc. But, again, the key is to intrigue them about who you are and get them to want to learn more about you and your music. Add any outside sources that have written about you, and well-known names that have worked with you to your stories to give you credibility.
For example, we’ve used the following:
Beatnik Turtle, which has been dubbed “remarkably prolific and a fiercely independent rock group” by NPR, has created 20 albums and produced compositions for TV, commercials, films, podcasts, and theater productions (including Disney, Viacom, and Chicago’s world-famous Second City). In 2007, they decided to take on a major creative challenge: release one original song for every day of the year. The result was 365 songs totalling 14 hours 57 minutes and 22 seconds of music that crossed genres, topics, and styles, all based on their horn-powered geek rock sound.
3. One Page.
This version of your bio is usually for journalists, press releases, and people that are trying to cover you in a more formal way. The goal of a one pager is to go beyond getting them to just listen to your music, you want them to write about you or cover you. Here's where you share key facts about your background, music, your live show, what drives you, your lyrics and message, and any key accomplishments.
If you play live, make a one page story for talent buyers. This will make booking easier. This one-pager is aimed at trying to get gigs, and would highlight the big venues you've played at, the kind of draw that you have, famous groups you've played with, and your setup.
Once you have all three, keep them handy in a place where you can grab them and cut-and-paste them when needed such as at Google Drive, Evernote, Dropbox, or some other cloud-accessible provider. You'll be using these three stories often, so it's worth the time to make them good and have them handy.
Finally, your 3 stories are never “done”. They will continue to evolve as you do. So, keep tweaking the stories that you tell about your music to see what's most effective.
Challenge: This week, write a first draft of the three stories about your music. Also, try using the one sentence version on someone who doesn't know your music yet to see if it intrigues them to ask more or want to listen to your music. If you’ve got a one-sentence you’d like to share, tweet or email us.
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Photo Credit: Electronic Musician