Music Business: Creating Keywords and Phrases for Your Bio

By Loren Weisman

You need to consider your keywords and phrases carefully to be recognized in the music business. Before you paint a picture, you first need colors on the palette to work with. It’s hard, frustrating, and ineffective to write a bio from start to finish without some type of “paints.” Create a couple different lists of words and phrases, and you create a palette of different colors to paint the best bio for you right onto the canvas.

Although hiring a great writer to pen your bio can leave you with a work of art, all too often you’re left with a bio that is much too long and can’t be used effectively for its full online marketing potential.

To create your palette of phrases to use when crafting your bio, start with filling in each of the following eight lists with two- to four-word phrases that best describe your responses. Some phrases and words may overlap, but don’t worry about it. Those could end up being some of the strongest descriptors for you to use.

  • List 1 – You or the band: Write 10 to 20 phrases that describe you as an artist or your band as individuals. Use words that best describe the personality or personalities, what you stand for, stand by, and believe in. List what you’d want to share with a new friend or potential lover. This list can include things like history buffs, video gamers, and sushi lover.

  • List 2 – Your music: Write 10 to 20 phrases that describe your music, approach to music, and your sound. Add the descriptors of your sound, your approach to music, your genre or genres. Have fun with this list. Avoid phrases like Rock-n-Roll because they’re too vague and overused. Instead, try adding a word or words on the front or back to give it a more individualized punch, like Melodic-n-Methodic Rock-n-Roll.

  • List 3 – Your influences: list ten of your biggest musical influences and why. Include a short bullet point or sentence as to why and how you were influenced.

  • List 4 – Your comparisons: Write ten of the best comparisons to your sound and style. List who you think you sound like, and ask friends who they think you sound similar to. You can also add aspects of certain ­artists without claiming to be compared to the whole band. For example, “The crazy drums of the Who with the reggae feel of the Police.”

  • List 5 – Non-music influences: List the influences outside of music in your life. Maybe you’re influenced by chefs, painters, racecar drivers, poets, writers, entrepreneurs, religious figures, politicians, or astronauts. Add them in this list.

  • List 6 – Comparisons outside of music: Write then comparisons outside of music. Imagine who you might be compared to if you were in another field. You could be called the Gordon Ramsey of the Music Industry. Often comedians, celebrities that are not musicians, and even fictional characters can help fill this list out well.

  • List 7 – Five reasons why you think someone should listen to you: Write five things that you think makes you stand out in the music business. This list can be challenging as you determine five key points that make you stand out in the sea of musicians and bands today. Think hard here and don’t shortcut. This can to go into your bio, and it can be used to explain who you are to investors, labels, managers, and others in the industry.

  • List 8 – Five elements you have going against you: Write down five elements or issues you have going against you. This is the humble list and the hardest one for many people. Write down what could make your career fail. As crazy as it sounds, this list is just as important as the others for finding the keywords that will help prevent this from happening. From medical concerns to criminal records, prior contractual obligations to debts, this is where you reveal the issues that are usually kept internally, but need to be considered and addressed.

These eight lists with over 90 phrases lay the foundation of your palette, to build your keyword phrases, bio, and call to action.

As you look over your lists of words and phrases, remove certain phrases that are too common and familiar:

  • Innovative (Way overused.)

  • Unique (Once again, way overused.)

  • New (Everything is new, it’s not helping.)

  • Different (As soon as someone decides you sound like someone else, then you’re no longer different to them, and this can kill interest.)

  • Never been done before (The industry sees it as all been done before.)

  • Hard-working and driven (Shouldn’t that be everybody? Why say it?)

  • Thought-provoking lyrics (Not to pick on anyone, but could you imagine an artist describing their lyrics as stale and boring?)

  • Team players (Again, something you need to be in this business, no need to state it.)

  • As soon as you hear it, you’ll know! (Another overused phrase that also brings out a cockiness you don’t need.)

  • Music with a message (All music has a message, so avoid this phrase.)

  • Showing up the rest (Don’t talk bad or down about others when you look for the best words to represent you.)

There are many bands and artists that want to reach the exact same people, fans, industry professionals, and media contacts that you do, which is why the bio and the keyword phrases are so important. When creating the best keywords, phrases, bio, and call to action, think about how these phrases influence:

  • A new fan

  • An existing fan

  • A friend

  • A reviewer or interviewer

  • A music industry professional

  • An investor, sponsor, or potential endorsee

Create phrases that enable you to connect with a diverse group of people.