From my experience of extracting information from artists to write a press release, modesty seems to be the biggest barrier that gets in the way of people providing useful facts. Providing information to the press is a little like writing a CV. It is often, when you think back to the beginning of your career, the small things, the incidents, the quirky stories that you used to tell people but you may have since forgotten, that help create a killer press release.
The same goes for a good artist biography. Whether you are signed to a major label, a manager, or bookings agency, playing an important gig or festival or are represented by a PR company, the information that you want to supply is the same as if you are a journalist writing a story.
The basis of any press release is the same as for a press article: Who – What – When – Where – Why
When writing a release for an artist, I ask the following questions:
Where are you based/from?
What inspired you to start making music?
Who/what are your 3 biggest influences (artists/songs/producers)?
What was your biggest gig to date?
What would you say is your biggest musical achievement?
What are working on at the moment (writing/recording/touring)?
What is your most memorable musical experience?
It is fine to be a fan
You may have heard some of your favourite artists talking about when they met their musical heroes or inspirations. Do you find those stories interesting? Do you read articles about music and find particular stories more engaging than others? Or do you think you haven’t done anything that great?
I find everyone has actually had way more interesting experiences and done way more interesting things than they may mention. People often don’t like to sound like they are boasting or they have enjoyed something so much they have tucked it away in their memory.
Mining your Memory
When sitting down to think about your musical career to date, start with the basic facts:
When did you start playing music?
When did you starting writing songs?
What do you remember about these two times?
Then start at the beginning and play your memory forward as this helps to trigger the next story in your memory narrative. You may well find that your memory will start playing back your musical career like a film, with each scene leading on to the next time and then all sorts of unique incidents that have happened to you will start gathering in your mind.
Stories Speak Volumes
When asked about achievements, many people are often very humble. They say things that are actual achievements, but they are taken as read as they probably apply to any band you talk to: “Just staying together/not killing each other”. Yes, it is hard to come up with achievements, whether it is for a work CV or a band bio. The most important thing is to try and find specific times, places, incidents, things said, experiences and anything you can pin point and say “that happened” will be impressive and interesting to readers and anyone you are working with.
A good way to rekindle lost memories is to do a radio interview. Find a local community radio station and listen to some shows. You are likely to find at least 1 or 2 presenters who ask for local musicians to come in and be guests in the studio or call in and send some music to play. This is a great way to get the flow going and introduce yourself to a big audience. There may well be a repeat or a way to record the show to listen back. Then have a pen ready to note down all the stories, facts, experiences or other information you say in the interview and save it for your next press release.
See some press releases I have had published for musicians, events and comedians on my website. This leads to more on my Pinterest page.