Sunday, October 2, 2011

To Famous People: where are your short bios?

A short introductory note:

As part of my job, I compile biographies for the various visiting artists. These are used on our website (150 words) and also in our programs (we have about a page of space). I assumed that this would entail pulling said biographies off of the webpages of said famous visiting artists. But, surprisingly, not one of them had a short form biography! And I'm talking about seriously famous people. What gives?

So with that, read on...


I write you this blog post to PLEAD that you follow the advice of every single person I've ever heard talk about self-promotion and actually include a short bio on your website.

Now, if you're like me and have commitment fears and don't actually have a website then I guess you can pass for now. Though you should have a short bio rattling around on your computer somewhere... But if you're a famous person--say, one of the many famous people coming to our school to do master classes--PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE tell me where you're hiding your short-form bio!

The funny thing is, I know you all know you're supposed to have a short bio. People are always asking me for short bios. They need something small to fit in the CD jacket (that's right! forthcoming Etherea Christmas CD! to be reviewed in Opera News just in time for the holidays! More on that later in October, when it's actually released). They don't actually care about you that much. They want to have the wham and bang and recent stuff and they won't actually read about the past. So I know you're all writing them. I know they're somewhere. I know someone is using them. Why the heck aren't they on your website?

Yes, it's always really nice to know a lot of things about you, Mr./Miss/Ms./Mrs. famous musician. In fact, those personal details can really flesh you out as an individual and make me want to support you and enjoy your music even more. Though, Real Live Famous Person, that might not include your Maine Coon cat. I'm sure he's cute and fuzzy, and I like cats a whole lot, but even I think it's a little weird that he appears in your bio. But, for heaven's sake, when someone like me is writing a bio that will appear in your program for a public master class that you're teaching at a well-known school, I might just edit it down to a size so that only the part about your cat remains. I have that 150 word limit for the website, or that page limit for the program, and if you don't edit it down to a manageable size... who will? I can't include another page just to list the concert halls you appeared in on tour, unfortunately. The budget doesn't allow it! The trees are screaming in protest! And so poor hapless Lucy has to sit there with the delete key and try to figure out what actually matters. For some instruments that's easy, but sometimes (here's looking at you, wacky percussion/brass/harp players) I can't figure out what's what. And I might just take out that one detail that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy. Like your cat.

So do us all a favor: include a short bio on your website! And if the cat's really important, put him in your picture like these stellar examples:

Simon Carrington
John Cage
(actually he has two)
Frank Zappa
Even David Bowie!
And Bob Dylan!

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