From Yinka's head...

Top 5 Tips: Writing a decent bio

Paper and penI think I’ve tapped into a collective nerve with my last few notes on Facebook.

You guys have been great!   Thanks for the comments, links, references and feedback so far.

The idea behind these notes is to share some of the info that will energise whatever it is you’re up to as a promoter, photographer, DJ, artist, designer,  whatever…

Typically, these ideas:

Don’t cost much (and are even usually free)

Are easy to implement, and

Will get you tangible, measurable results (in some cases pretty much immediately)

Depending on how much you read my blog on WordPress (where these notes are actually imported from) or how much you’ve followed my writing on, you’ll know that I have a yet-to-be-launched project that used to be called

The name (and project) has since morphed into UKG Connect, but the principle remains the same: I give you the best industry tools I can find to help you along.

As part of the project, I have asked many of our industry’s finest professionals to write their top tips on a given subject, which brings me to this note. And George Luke.

George belongs to that exclusive club of Christians that work in multiple Christian circles (Black, White and Latin American, to name just three), as well as having written for some pretty impressive mainstream and Christian publications and broadcasters.

He’s also into radio in a big way, and is the producer of Muyiwa‘s ‘Sounds Of Africa’ show for Lufthansa Airlines, as well as being a radio broadcaster in his own right.

You’ll soon find some of his work as a podcast on’s international gospel series, Global Warming.

My brief to George was for him to give me his Top Five Tips for writing a decent bio.

A word of warning: some of it might not make comfortable reading.  See number one, for example… ๐Ÿ™‚

George Luke’s Top Five Tips: Writing a Decent Bio

  • Tip 1: No Christianese. So you’ve got a “ministry” and your songs are “anointed” – what does that even mean? How do you rub oil on a song?

Church is full of religious jargon; words that make the speaker sound holy, but ultimately have no meaning and just fly over the heads of regular folk.

Your bio should be in language that’s as accessible as possible, so avoid all those confusing churchy clichรฉs. The only people with a ‘ministry’ are in the House of Commons, and ‘deliverance’ is something Pizza Hut does if you live in a nice neighbourhood!

In a word (or three), keep it simple.

  • Tip 2: Watch how you namedrop. A lot of aspiring artists have at one time or other landed a slot doing backing vocals for a big star, or even supporting one on tour.

There’s always a temptation to make a big deal out of something like this on your bio and grab yourself a little fame by association.

But it can work against you (worst case scenario: you’re being interviewed, and the interviewer is clearly more interested in hearing about what big star was like to work with than they are in you and your music).

My advice is be careful when dropping names. Of course you’re going to mention high-profile gigs you’ve done on your bio; they are part of your work experience and the bio is your CV.

As a rule of thumb, how big a deal you make of it should be proportional to how big a role you played. If, like my friend Ric Blair, you can say “I was Sheryl Crow’s guitar teacher,” or like John Fisher of IDMCyou can say “my choir and I sang with Bono at Pavarotti’s wedding,” then go for it.

But if you were just chorister #399 in the 400-member choir that sang “I Believe I Can Fly” with R Kelly at the MOBO awards, I wouldn’t make too much out of it. (I made that R Kelly at the MOBOs thing up, by the way)

  • Tip 3: It’s a CV, not your life story. It’s happened to me a million times; I’ve just written a bio for a band or solo act that’s guaranteed to grab any media person’s attention, and they’ve rung back to complain because the bio doesn’t include an in-depth account of “how they got saved”. Aaaaaaaaargh!

Your bio was never meant to be your entire life history. Realistically, you just want a brief account of your musical career – especially if you’re a new artist – to fit ideally on one side of A4.

Here’s a secret I probably shouldn’t be telling you: many of the people you’ll be sending this thing to are not the greatest readers in the world! They just want something they can give a quick scan before asking you questions.

Besides, a good bio isn’t meant to give the reader every little bit of information about you; just enough to pique their interest and make them want to find out more (same goes for press releases).

Having said that, you may want to think seriously about having more than one version of your bio.

Club DJs aren’t interested in reading about how God delivered you from life as a gun-running, human-trafficking, crack head sex maniac; they just want to know if your song’s any good!

Have a short, punchy, fat-free bio for them. On the other hand, some pastors won’t let you within 10 miles of their church doors without a full sworn statement of your doctrinal stance on eschatological exegesis (don’t even bother looking it up; I just threw the two words together).

For them, you might want a bio which focuses more on your church work. Decide who you want to send the bio to, and write accordingly.

  • Tip 4: Spell-check and grammar check thoroughly.

And always do it with a good old-fashioned dictionary and grammar textbook handy.

  • Tip 5: Don’t do your readers’ thinking for them.

I appreciate that you’re trying to sell yourself – but never say something like “these songs will bless you when you hear them!” on your bio or press release.

I will be the judge of whether your song blesses me or not, thank you very much… and anyway, if you’re still using words like “bless” at this stage, then you clearly have already forgotten rule number one on this list!

Go back and read it all again!

So, there you go… George’s Top Tips.

What do you think…?  George is available to help with your bio: commission him to write yours – or get him in as your consultant!

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