Last year I happened to attend a workshop on maximizing your creative potential courtesy of Music of the People. This workshop was tailored towards educating artists on what they need in when taking the next step from a free act to actually start earning.
One of the panelists was the man behind the former Thursday night live gig at choices. He goes by the name Rashid Jibril and his wisdom was a marvel. His main focus was on drafting a proper bio. Most creatives, especially in Kenya barely know what this is let alone have one. The ones who have it mostly have a skeleton framework of what is required. This greatly puts them at a disadvantage when international and corporate opportunities as they are not able to sell themselves or their craft.
Before I get into specifics, you have to understand what an artist’s bio is. This is a paragraph(but not limited to), written in prose that gives a short but detailed description of the artist and his/ her craft. This is not a substitute for a CV and it is not a CV. Writing in prose for those who might not be in the know, is drafting it in paraghraph form without bullet points or lists or breaks.
Now to the main agenda. What goes into and artist’s bio?
This should be the first thing when drafting your bio. Be sure to include and clearly indicate your official name and stage name. This is so as to ensure your transactions are safe in that your MPesa and bank account aren’t put under your stage name unless that’s what you’re using. Even then be sure to state this fact as it will reduce chances of confusion.
2. Journey as an artist
This is the headache for most artists, especially the ones starting out. What I can tell you is do not be embarrassed. Be clear, honest and proud of your accomplishments and performances or lack thereof. On the other hand don’t get too cocky and draft irrelevant things. This is usually a turnoff. I’d suggest you focus on around five major milestones and a few minor ones and update them periodically as you advance. Be sure to include an excerpt of your origin story and your performances/ showcases to date. Be sure to explain your niche and what has gone into settling into it from the origin story stated above, to any changes you might have made to what you are specializing in now.
3. Where you’ve performed/ showcased your work
As for where you’ve performed, don’t sell yourself short, make the list as detailed as possible but focus heavily on the acts you regard highly and are able to talk about and refer to. That way in case you are asked for clarification you don’t have an ‘errmm’ moment.
4 Artistic influences
This will help the reader understand what your music might sound like. It acts as a silent referree. Be sure to draft what you are currently listening to and what your projects are mostly influenced by. This can be music, a podcast, religion, politics…whatever is state it clearly and explain why.
5. Links to your works
This is one of the most important parts as it might make or break you. If you have any works online be sure to include them. However, I’d highly emphasize on quality as poor quality work discourages investors. On the other hand take advantage of streaming services like soundcloud and artistic centred communities like vsco and deviant art to your advantage. Most of the time downloads aren’t listened to. Streaming gives the person quick access to listen and make a quick verdict. The other communities give the assessor an idea of what territory they’re getting into.
6. Name of your compilations and release dates
This refers to albums, EPs and Lps. This will boost your portfolio and can also act as a documentation of your growth. When listened to they can be your biggest selling point in case the online works aren’t convincing enough.
7. Contact information
Be sure to include your personal/ professional phone number(s) that is always available. If possible give alternative lines that they can use to reach you in case one is out of order. Also remember to include your professional email address. Make sure the name sells your brand and is easily identifiable. I’d advice putting up a profile picture of yourself or your work for this purpose but it’s not a must as the address should make it easier already but you can never be too cautious. Include your social media handles i.e. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. These are very crucial as they are usually used to gauge your level of influence and worth.
These are the basics of what go into an artists bio. All in all be sure to edit your work and have someone else have a look at it and get their feedback. That’s all for this edition of hacks. On the next one I’ll be focusing on common mistakes made when drafting a bio.
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