How To Write A DJ Bio
DJ and promoter Will Bradbury explores what makes a good DJ bio stand out - from how to introduce yourself as a DJ to how it fits into your wider marketing strategy.
If, like myself, you aren’t the best at bigging yourself up, this might not be the most exciting chore to have to tick off when you’re starting out as a DJ. You may tell yourself it's not even important - who reads this stuff anyway?
Well, when you start getting booked, people are going to want to know a little bit about you, particularly promoters who are putting you on their bill and hopefully introducing you to a new audience.
You might already have a handful of mixes out there on SoundCloud but to attract listeners, you’ll want a bit of text that hooks them in and encourages them to go listen to your stuff.
When you do get signed, your manager/booking agent can take care of your whole DJ press kit but until then, you’re going to have to do the work yourself.
London Sound Academy defines a DJ bio as just this:
‘A piece of text that introduces you as an artist, your background, your style of music, your accolades, your achievements, what you’re currently doing and your future plans.’
Perhaps you haven’t even really thought about a lot of this before, so it's a good time to ask yourself questions like: What do I want from my DJ sets? Why do I play the music that I do? What are my goals, long and short-term? These are all things that should be included in a DJ Bio.
Write a list, including some of the best sets/clubs you’ve played, mixes you’ve recorded and what other artists/labels/scene you are associated with (only who you actually are, not who you want to be). I would also strongly recommend asking for advice from anyone you know who has done this before, or anyone in the music industry who might be able to help - after all, it’s often hard to know how you come across to others.
As all great artists steal, this is another area which is no different - have a scroll through RA/some booking agency websites and check out your favourite artists’ bios to get a feeling of the style you want to go for. Obviously, you can’t actually steal the line ‘a regular at Berghain’s Panorama Bar’ (unless you are), but it’ll definitely give you a good idea of what you should and shouldn’t be including in your bio, albeit maybe with a less impressive list of credentials.
Putting Pen To Paper
Once you’re clear in your own mind, it's time to get writing. When you’re starting out, you’ll want to keep to around 300 words, or half a side of A4 paper, and would suggest formatting it as below. And as any PR specialist will tell you, it's good to bear in mind the rule of 3 - a writing principle psychologically proven to produce memorable and effective narratives.
1. Intro & Slogan A couple of short sentences that are short and snappy, hitting the reader with who you are and what you do.
It’s really important to pack as much punch in this intro as you can - think: if the reader or promoter were only going to remember one thing from reading the bio, this is it. What makes you unique? Avalon Emerson’s is as short as "Triple Scorpio Supernova," which is not only very memorable, but says all you need to know really - an idea of her interests (a nerdy obsession with astrology), her sound (extraterrestrial, synth-heavy, otherworldly) and a bit of her sense of humour and character.
2. Main Bio Time to get out that list and pick out a few main achievements and weave them into a paragraph demonstrating your skills and achievements to date.
This is the bulk of the info and will probably take up about twice as much as your opening/closing paragraph, though perhaps the easiest bit to get right. Be direct - where you cut your teeth, what music have you released to date, who you alongside and where, as well as any press/artists/institutions who champion you. But rather than simply listing these things, make sure to come across as passionate and tell a bit of a story.
3. Your Journey This is the cherry on top - again a couple short sentences will suffice to round things off nicely for those who are bothered to read till the end.
This is the point to include something a bit more personal perhaps, as well as what you’re currently working on and what’s on the horizon (keep them wanting more!).
Things To Avoid
Lying - if your conscience doesn’t stop you, your fear of being called out should. If you haven’t played that club, gained the attention of X or actually supported Y cus the gig fell through, get rid of it. Stick to the facts.
Exaggerating - similar to the above, just don’t. Hyping yourself up into something you are not will show immediately as you step up to the decks. Clichés - if you genuinely want to stand out this won’t help at all.
Using Micro-genres - I’m normally all for specificity, but this is one place where you do not want to pigeonhole yourself. It's better to be descriptive about your sound using adjectives to convey feeling rather than definitely stating what genres you play.
Name-dropping - Mentioning some key influences or clubs and acts your are associated is fine, but don’t overdo it and certainly stray away from anything along the lines of ‘her flair for lighting up a dancefloor with bombs such as…’ Cringe!
How To Promote Yourself As A DJ
It’s time to get the word out - once you’re happy with what you’ve got (and your friends aren’t creasing at the sight of the bio anymore), you need to decide what platforms to post your DJ bio on.
Your RA page is a must for the full whack, though for socials profiles/SoundCloud you may need to condense it to a shorter version - calls to mind Avalon Emerson’s slogan again.
When reaching out to promoters and people who are looking to book you, your DJ bio becomes part of a wider DJ press kit. You might be wondering how to create a DJ press kit... The good news is that once you have your DJ bio ready to go, it's easy. Pop a PDF of your longer form DJ bio in a file along with your press shot and links to some mixes - it's as simple as that.
Last but not least
Finally, it's probably a good idea to tweak and update, much like a CV, as your experience grows and you rack up some more impressive milestones.
Feeling inspired? You can book a DJ studio with Pirate in cities across the UK, US and Germany. All come with industry-standard equipment and are bookable by the hour.