Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Momma Taught Me Not To Brag...

But that was before she knew I was going to be a musician. In order to get hired, most musicians have promo packs, which include not only a sample of how you sound, but biographical information, press clippings, etc. Pretty much all musician bios have the same format. You hype yourself, drop a few names, and include a few favorable quotes from newspapers, magazines, and other artists. Almost all bios sound the same after a while. Some of the singer/songwriter cliches are "Heartfelt lyrics" and "Soaring vocals." It's hard to stand out from the crowd, and I always suspected that most bookers were sick of getting promo packs.

This is the part of the business that really turns my stomach. I'm shy by nature, and sometimes find myself being overly modest as a way of compensating for the self promotion required to stay gainfully employed. The last thing I'd like to be known for is conceit. A few years ago I found a workable solution. This is a verbatim sample of the bio I sent out to several venues:

Blah blah blah. Hype! Blah blah blah blah blah. Hype! Hype hype hype! Major name dropping. Hype!

Then I added a few made up quotes. This one was my favorite:

This guy is gonna be huge!
Weight Watchers Magazine

My instincts were right, and a wonderful thing happened. Nearly every venue that received a bio hired me. I'd call a week after getting it mailed out, and once I got the booker on the phone the first part of the conversation would go like this:

"Hi, this is Willie Atkinson, I..."

"Man, I love your bio! When can you play?"

I only sent the bio to ten venues, and nine of them hired me. It may be time to start using it again.

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