How to make the most of your 1500 characters.
One of the awesome advantages of streaming is that your music can reach so many different people in so many different ways. Some fans find their way to you by following their own nose for discovery, but plenty of others stumble onto your songs when they pop up in a playlist. When listeners are coming to your bio from within the Spotify app, there’s a good chance they’ve already got one of your tracks pumping through their speakers.
“If we think about the ways that a lot of our listeners interact with Spotify, that’s often through a playlist,” says Samantha Yeh, a Senior Product Marketing Manager at Spotify. “They might be listening to RapCaviar, or maybe they have a song that's recommended to them through Discover Weekly or Release Radar. So we know that what is always going to start a connection with someone is the song. But after somebody has learned a little bit about your music, where can they go next to learn more about you? That's really the purpose of the artist profile.”
The upshot: You want to make sure your bio makes the most of the attention it gets. Already, we’ve made room to optimize the space provided by doing away with anything but the most necessary descriptors of sound. One thing to note—if you don’t contribute your own bio and you’re on AllMusic/Rovi, your bio will be pulled from there, but this is your story, you should tell it. A personal touch is always preferable, like how NZCA LINES has done in the example above. Here are some of the things you can do to get the most out of those 1500 characters.
Do: Write the way you think
Before you write anything, consider how you want to convey your identity as an artist to listeners. Do you want people to think of you as a serious and intense artist? Would you like to communicate that you’re always down for a good time, and that your songs are just right to set the mood for a party? Maybe you’re out to assert that your art is ever-shifting, and you’re too chameleonic to be arranged tidily into one category.
There’s no right answer here, but the tone of your language should reflect the type of artist you are. If you want to let your listeners know that you’re as fun as your music, maybe make your word choices laidback and informal. If you’re trying to communicate depth, you might want to create some gravitas with your words. Bios can provide a glimpse into the artist behind the work, which adds new dimensions to the listening experience. There's an opportunity to be as creative with your story as you are with your music.
Do: Tell a story
If fans are checking out your bio, it’s because they're curious about you. So reel in their attention with a story. You could aim for something broad in scope that puts your entire musical journey in perspective; you could narrow your focus a bit to share something that gets at the essential points of your most recent or upcoming project; or you could craft a mix of both.
Certain elements can really help to set the scene:
- Where are you from? How did you get to where you are now? Where are you headed?
- Was there a catalyst that led to the music you’re currently making? Why did you write this album or that song, for instance?
- How did the current incarnation of you as an artist come to be?
- What themes do you explore in your music? Or what themes are you exploring in your latest release?
Above all, think of your story as a companion piece to your work. How can you address your identity as an artist and the music you’re making in a way that enriches the listening experience?
Don’t: Forget Your Audience
Always remember who’s going to be reading. This means considering that the level of familiarity listeners have with your music might be absolutely none. Giving them the bare essentials—where you’re based, what your latest release is named and at least a few good details about it, what kind of an artist you are, who’s in the band if you’re a band, and who you’ve worked or collaborated with—is helpful.
Things that aren’t helpful to someone just running across your page are inside jokes or references so local that a global audience won’t understand them. If you decide something like that is important, it helps to provide a brief explainer, but remember you only have 1500 characters; it's probably wise to leave out anything that overcomplicates your bio.
Do: Invite the whole crew
One of the most connective ways you can fill out your Spotify bio is by highlighting your musical connections, like collaborators, producers, influences, and labelmates. You’re able to actually tag any artists you want inside your bio, which can help listeners discover kindred artists and understand the roots and branches of your work.
“It's a cute little way for people who might belong to the same collective or who have released music with the same label to shout-out each other,” says Yeh. “A lot of the Odd Future folks used to reference each other and each other's bios. All of those folks usually tag each other in their bios as a way to recognize up-and-coming artists or people who have inspired them in the past or music they love or are really interested in right now.”
Do: Update your listeners
Because listeners are often engaging with Spotify daily, and your creative projects are always changing—new releases, album announcements, upcoming collaborations—you can use your bio as a way to keep fans in the know about new developments in your career. While it might be great to maintain part of your bio as static, covering the nuts and bolts of you as an artist, Yeh says it can be a good idea to set aside some of the bio space for frequently changing, news-type info. This way, listeners know what you’re up to the minute they tune in.
Don't: Be afraid to be inventive
The above suggested guidelines, of course, are there only to provide a structure that’s meant to be played with. You can create something as memorable as your music in less than 1500 characters, and sometimes what is most memorable is what stands apart from the pack. Can you write a poem that so deeply complements your music that it deserves space in your bio? Can you compile some of the above info into something cleverly constructed to look like a recipe from a cookbook? The possibilities are endless, so don't be afraid to explore them.