I'm currently finishing up my reviews batch for an upcoming issue of the magazine, and something has been bugging me. There are a lot of new bands out there who are trying their hardest to get some recognition, which is admirable in the current musical and financial climate, but who are going about one key aspect all wrong.
The bio sheet, or Press Release, depending on how seriously you take yourself, is an integral part of any promotional package that is sent out to magazines (and thus journos such as myself), and it's easy to get carried away with what you put onto it.
I, like many other rock journalists, really don't need most of the stuff that a lot of bands like to include in their press material, and thus here is a brief guide to a professional – and useful – bio sheet.
What we need:
Information presented in a clear and uncluttered manner, so we can help YOU get to where you want to be.
What we DON'T need:
Background images behind the text, fancy fonts, several pages of what your mates think, lots of photos. Flashy doesn't equal good.
One sheet is preferred, but two sheets is acceptable if it is completely necessary (which it usually isn't). Using one sheet of A4 minimises waste, maximises the content you're showing us and helps to keep your postage costs low. Printing on both sides of the sheet is a good idea too, if you need the extra space.
The essentials:The following things MUST be on there (and don't scoff at some which seem basic – people DO miss them off...):
Contact details (email, phone, postal, management, website, twitter etc)
Title of the release being promoted
Record label (or listing as 'Independent Release' for unsigned acts)
Then there are additional things which come in very handy for people reviewing the material too:
Brief biography (100 words or so – include where the band was formed, influences and history)
A picture of the band
It is very possible for all of this information to be included on one piece of A4 without too much of a squeeze, making it easier for you to get your point across and easier for us to write accurate reviews of your music.
Oh, and a rule for coming across as a professional prospect: MAKE SURE YOUR SHEET CONTAINS NO SPELLING MISTAKES OR GRAMMATICAL ERRORS. While this last part is not absolutely essential (especially when bands are from other countries), it does help to present yourselves and your material in a good light. Good luck, you talented guys and girls.
The world is out there for the taking. Just make sure you do it right.
Your humble busy rock writer,