Last week in Build A Scene And DJing Success Will Follow, I outlined what I believe is the only real route to success for DJs aiming to become recognised as artists in their own right. This week and for the next six weeks, in the context of that overall “plan”, we’re going to break it right down to six specific “items” that you’re more than likely going to want to have as you work on your master plan. There will be a written article and an accompanying video if you’d rather watch through how to do each of these six steps. You’ll find the video at the end of each week’s article.
So when we’re looking at the subject of this series – making promotional materials – I think the very best place to start is with your DJ bio, short of course for “biography” – the “about me” stuff. It’s an integral part of your efforts to allow potential fans, promoters, and anyone else you might encounter in this industry to get to know you and learn who you are.
Today we’re going to get things rolling by helping you write an effective bio that will hit all the major points you would need. I’ll also show you how to version your bio out for the different needs you might encounter. We’ll even touch on producing a bio for your business, whether it be a promotion firm or a mobile entertainment company. (Did I mention that starting a related business to help support your nascent DJing career is a great idea? I did now…)
Step 1: Gather information
The first step in writing your DJ bio is to gather the information you want to talk about. Think about the following questions before you write anything:
- Where are you from? Has this had any bearing on the kind of DJ you are/want to be?
- How did you start DJing? Or what led you to want to be a DJ?
- What are your goals as a DJ?
- Who influences you? Where do you draw inspiration from?
- What have you done, in terms of gigs or projects?
- What are you currently doing now, in terms of residencies or other projects?
- What projects are you looking to do in the future?
Take some notes as you ask yourself these things. Even if you’re a rank amateur with little experience, you can still come up with an initial bio by simply focusing on the points that aren’t related to past or present gigs/projects.
Step 2: Write your draft
With your information gathered, it’s time to organise it into a first draft. This isn’t supposed to be a chronological telling of your DJ career, but more a combination summary/marketing story of you. A good way to approach the first draft is to use this basic structure:
- Who you are and what you’re about
- Where you started and what you’ve done.
- Your influences and goals
- Where you’re at now and where you see yourself going
I know it’s tough to talk about yourself, but it is one of life’s challenges that when you overcome it, you’ll be able to more easily promote yourself not even in the DJ realm but even in the normal professional world, if you happen to be seeking a job or opportunity that isn’t even DJ-related.
When you write, think about the tone you want to convey and which “person” you want to speak in. Speaking in the first person (“I did this and I did that”) will give a more friendly, personable tone to your bio. However, it might not come off as “professional”. The third person (“He did this and she did that”) is a better tone for most bios if you’re serious about going deep into this as a potential career.
In terms of tone, you want your bio to sound ambitious, professional, and positive. Try not to sound egotistical, negative, or narcissistic. Also try not to get long-winded, or put in things that have no real relevance to your DJ career. For instance, it’s nice that you were born in a little village and shovelled coal until you were sixteen, but does this have any real deep relevance to you as a DJ and what you bring to the booth? If the sound of a coal shovel rhythmically hitting the black stuff has given you a highly original take on programming drum lines, say so – if not, it’s not relevant!
So how long should your bio be? I’m sure you’re wondering. I will tell you that most promoters or even journalists are not going to have the time or patience to read a massively long DJ bio. I would probably advise not to go more than four or five paragraphs, but at least as long as one paragraph (if you don’t have much to say). One sheet, definitely.
When you get your first draft finished, approach the next step the same way you might have when you write or wrote term papers for school. Write your rough draft, read it a few times, and then tweak or change things as you see fit.
Step 3: Version it out
When you finish and perfect your final bio, you then need to make several versions of this. The main reason is your bio should also be easy content for whoever might need it. So let’s say you made a strong four-paragraph bio you’ll toss on your website and in your press kit. You should then whittle it down into a one-paragraph version showing the most important points. This is what some journalists or promoters might use in some cases, or perhaps for social media sites in the “About” section.
You should also make one or two more versions that are one or two sentences long. This might sound silly, but look at a lot of rave events. When they post their detailed lineups online, many promoters will put those small tiny bios next to each name. These mini-bios shouldn’t so much focus on achievements or where you came from, but more on just who you are and what one can expect of you. Think of this as your “elevator pitch” – what would you tell someone if you had to travel a single floor in an elevator with them about your DJing career, that gets the main point across?
Step 4. Got a related company? Do the same thing!
Are you planning on starting a promotions crew to throw events? Or maybe you’re a mobile DJ and want to present yourself as a company rather than an individual? In either case (or if you’re a PA hire firm, or you run an internet radio station, or you’ve founded a club wear shop, or you run the club listings website for your town…) the simple DJ bio will not do. You’ll still need a DJ bio regardless for your own individual use, but for a company, the “bio” is known as a mission statement. A mission statement is usually one or two sentences that tell what your company does and what it’s about. This could be something like:
“Our mission is to expand the musical landscape of the city while entertaining patrons and creating a balance between underground innovation and mainstream excitement.”
“DDJT Entertainment provides top-quality music and entertainment services for your event. We bring the excitement of the club to your wedding, corporate party, or school dance.”
If you need to go further, then you would make a company history which tells of your achievements, growth, current projects, and goals, much in the way you did for your DJ bio. From that point you would perhaps list the principal participants in the company and show their own short one-paragraph bios (see why I had you version things out?).
In the long run, be it a bio or mission statement, the goal is to write copy that allows the reader to get to know you as a DJ, artist, or company. A demo can do wonders, but it’s the bio that separates you from the masses. That’s why it is so important, and why you should treat it always as a work in progress – keep updating and evolving your bio as you grow and evolve as a DJ or artist.
The next piece of the promotional puzzle is another topic I’ve seen asked about many times here and in the Digital DJ Tips forum – your DJ logo. I’m going to show you how to design a logo in general, and how to relate it to our industry. See you then!
Here are the links to the other parts in this series:
- Creating Killer DJ Promotional Materials, Part 2: Your Logo
- Creating Killer DJ Promotional Materials, Part 3: Your Press Photo
- Creating Killer DJ Promotional Materials, Part 4: Flyers
- Creating Killer DJ Promotional Materials, Part 5: Your Email List
- Creating Killer DJ Promotional Materials, Part 6: Videos
Got anything you’d like to add? Got any questions to ask about crafting a killer bio? Want to link to your bio and show us your work? Here’s your chance – do so in the comments.