Bands, have a professional write your bio

As a sometime music journalist, I tend to read a lot of band biographies, which are usually tedious at best. Here are some statements guaranteed to make me want to gargle kerosene:

1. “Noticing a lack/Seeing that the San Diego scene was missing/After looking for X and not finding it” introductory lines. For God sake, this is your band bio, not a marketing plan for a small business loan to open a goddamn McDonald’s. You sound like (at best) a careerist prick if your best reason for starting a band was to fill a niche, as if you’re marketing breakfast cereal or teriyaki chicken sandwiches. At worst, it means that you a) aren’t aware of the fifteen or so bands in the music scene that sound just like you (except tighter and more experienced, and less likely to wallow in their own ignorance) and b) you’ve just pissed off those same bands, the most likely candidates to give you decent shows. Congratulations.

2.  “The band was an accident/we just found ourselves jamming/any other immaculate conception'” explanations for how your band got started. Let’s face some facts: if you’ve heard of the old chestnut about a million chimps using typewriters eventually producing Hamlet, then you know how remote the possibility that three to five functional alcoholics with odd-hours jobs will manage to get 600 pounds and $10,000 worth of musical equipment in a suitably padded room for this happy accident to occur actually is. You got together because you wanted to play music. Or you grew up together. Or you like each other’s company and can’t stand fishing. These are all fine reasons that have the added virtue of being true.

3. “Featuring so-and-so, ex-member of X.” Unless band X has toured nationally, has several records that are sold in record stores or is a band that anyone outside of your neighborhood has heard of, no one actually reading your band bio will care. Everyone who knows about X de facto knows about your new band. They know because you told them–probably all at the same time, the last time you had a barbeque or after party. I’m sure so-and-so is also a veteran of his middle school jazz band, and maybe co-captain of his JV baseball team. Remember, the point of your bio isn’t to help the FBI assemble a dossier, it’s to get your band attention. Telling me that Joe Blow was the lead guitarist for Smoking Curveballs doesn’t exactly set my pants on fire.

4. “Band bio as non-band bio.” Oh, I get it: you guys are totally over that PR-seeking activity. You’re not going to feed the beast, no sir. You’re so totally over it, in fact, that you had your friend who majored in critical theory write an absurdist, two act play in lieu of useful information. You then had a publicist (who gets paid to get you publicity, by the way, and likely does so without any kind of safety net) get out on the firing line, sending this page-long “fuck you” to your intended audience and cold calling writers to try and cajole them into writing about a band that thinks they’re too cool to be written about. Am I going with that, or the band that tells me they write songs about drinking beer and getting high? At least they respect me enough to be honest about their intentions. And they usually share once I’m on the guest list. Your smug sense of pretentious detachment is a little harder for me to pound right before you hit the stage.

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6 Comments

  1. Goddamn! I thought I was a pessimist!
    I LMAO and enjoyed every line of that derisive banter.
    I am (was) about to begin writing my bio and feeling quite confident now that I have carefully considered your jocular caveat.

    Keep up the great work! Seriously entertaining!

  2. Hillarious! This is a great reminder that I need to get some professional help (for my bio). I actually found this article trying to google up a professional bio writer…Are you available?

  3. Great article. That is so true though when look at band site the bios are so lacking.

  4. I love it! The question is…what DO you find catches your eye in bios you like? Is it the personal touch?

  5. […] and thanks for visiting!Cullen Hendrix tells you exactly how NOT to write your band’s bio in this post I stumbled across when looking for resources about putting the story of your music online. If […]

  6. You’d better change the title to ‘Bands, have a competent professional write your bio’. 😉

    The worst bios are the bios from starting bands, who don’t know yet how to write a good biography, and those of major artists who hire a wannabe novel writer to write it.

    The best are often those of bands that still do it themselves, but through experience know what to put in it.


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