Using Your Brand to Write Your Professional Bio: Top Tips to Help You Stand Out

One of the great things about having a brand is that it can be used in so many ways.  A brand is fundamentally a marketing tool that connects the best of you with your ideal audience.  Your brand has a practical application as follows:

  • Logo and tag line
  • Website
  • Promotional Materials
  • Career Materials, including a professional bio, resume and CV.

Here are some tips on how can you use your brand to prepare a top-quality performance bio inspired by a recent class that I did for the choral conducting students at the Yale School of Music.

A bio is a summary of your greatest accomplishments that are relevant to the particular audience. Professional bios are a great way to connect you to your target audience.  Knowing your brand can help you to craft an original statement of how you are unique and memorable to your audience and help you to select the specific examples from your artistic life that you will put into your bio.

 Your bio will differ depending on how it is being used:

•    As general information on your website
•    As part of your press kit
•    A shorter statement in a performance book or a speaking engagement
•    A longer statement for a grant application or a job

A bio should present you in a distinctive, interesting light so that people will be eager to know more about you and hire you.  A bio is not a biography!  It should never be a laundry list of your performances and accomplishments.

The opening lines of a bio should grab the reader’s attention! This is where you summarize the best of you to your target audience—the essence of your brand statement. If you have a good review on hand, quoting from that review is a good way to start your bio since it provides objective evidence of what makes you unique and memorable.

For example:

Praised as having “undoubted talent” by the Los Angeles Times and described as being “impossibly virtuosic” by the Edinburgh Guide, young Australian pianist David Fung continues to impress audiences with his poetry, artistry and elegance.

Described as “…truly riveting…” by MusicWeb International, the Linden String Quartet is a winner of the 2010 Concert Artists Guild Victor Elmaleh Competition.

If you do not have the benefit of a review, your brand statement can help you to set the right tone:

•    The choral conductor who is “visual, physical and colorful”
•    The composer whose music is “novel, spare and precise”
•    The bassoonist who is “classic, fun and full of color”

The rest of the bio reflects the performance highlights that demonstrate the brand and would be of greatest interest to the audience.  That would include famous ensembles and prestigious venues, notables prizes and awards, and interesting projects, workshops and speaking engagements that are of interest to your target audience.

The last paragraph is where you include your education and perhaps one interesting non-musical fact about you. 

Here are my top ten tips for writing a great performance bio:

1.    Be prepared:  create a document with all of your career information organized by performances, awards and prizes, festivals, competitions, workshops and presentations, teachers and coaches, master classes and reviews
2.    Have a catchy, personal opening paragraph that summarizes who you are and what you are all about.
3.    Craft your bio with the intended audience in mind, presenting the most relevant and significant accomplishments.
4.    Save your education and personal information for the last paragraph.
5.    DO NOT oversell your accomplishments or make grandiose statements.
6.    AVOID generalities and be sure to back up each statement with specific examples.
7.    DO NOT include your entire professional history.  A bio is not a biography.
8.    Proofread your bio and have it reviewed by trusted friends and colleagues.  DO NOT rely on spellcheck.  Proofread your bio. And proofread again!
9.    Create a short and long version of your bio depending on the intended audience.
10.   Continue to update and refine your bio as you gain more experience.  Do not compare yourself with more experienced musicians.  You will get there someday!

Remember your brand as you craft your bio.  It will go a long way in helping you to present yourself in a way that will make audiences eager to hear you.