A blog about songwriting and about the songwriter Luigi Cappel

Posts tagged ‘bio’

Making money at gigs with merch

While famous bands can earn good money at gigs, for the lesser mortals, often gigs are played for free or cover costs and not much more. For some payment might come in terms of free drinks, food and maybe accomodation.

So how can you make money at your gigs? One good way is merch, aka merchandise. If you can get someone to man a mechandise table, this is a good way to sell some extra product and help build and support your fanbase.

First thing of course is your CD’s. Even when I am playing at an open mike or bar gig, I often get asked for CD’s that people can purchase. My recordings to date are all demo’s and while they are reasonable, they are far from professional quality, for a start I don’t have a drummer on them, not by choice, I just haven’t got round to finding someone to help me with that. Nevertheless, if I had some I could sell them.

So the next thing is because they are demo’s and not of a quality that I would want to produce professionally in volume, I have decided to burn my own for now. To that end I bought a Canon PIXMA iP4500 inkjet printer which will print straight onto printable CD’s and DVD’s. SO I can burn my CD’s from my TASCAM recording unit, or from my PC. I can print labels locally and buy DVD cases, so that I can also easily print slicks to go in them. I can now produce a pretty professional disk for around $3 and sell it for $10 which I think is reasonable. I can also print quality demo’s to go with my Press Kit. If it’s a demo, you could also add other material on the CD including your EPK, lyric sheets in Word or PDF format, video’s etc.

If you have a real following, you can do things like print T Shirts, there are companies all over that can do this for you. In New Zealand, one that is possible is Closet. There are also loads of companies that sell promotional products and there are lot of things that would work for you and many of them are quite cheap, even with screenprinting. One good example is Designagift. Think about what fits with your type of music and the type of audience you have and make sure the Merch you have made is suitable and would be attractive to them.

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What makes a professional bio?

Your Bio is obviously the number one component. I’ve talked about what sould be in your bio. The next thing to think about is how professional does it look. How do you want people to perceive you. Have a look at your bio now. Does it shout out, this person is a pro? Is this a star performer or songwriter or is this something they put together in a hurry.

If you don’t have the skills to put it together yourself, go to a secretarial service or find a friend with Desktop Publishing experience. Do you have Microsoft Office? Micorosft Publisher would be an easy way of putting it together and you will find some templates either in the program or by searching for a template on the web. They not only have a section on the web about making a good media kit on on this link you will also find a link to their templates section.

So we’ve talked about the content, to some degree. The key things I would look for are:

  • What have you accomplished recently? Not the talent quest you won when you were 11. Have you performed somewhere recently or been featured in an article? I had the pleasure in performing in Florida and Jamaica last year. That would be worth including perhaps.
  • A quote from someone or a media that props you up would be good.
  • A photo. This is another thing that is important. You need a photo that represents you in an appropriate way. From a bio perspective (this is not a press release) a good thing to do would be a nice professional head and shoulders shot, maybe in an interesting background. The key thing is represent yourself in such a way that if you read it, you would be impressed and interested. The key word is professional. If you don’t have a really good photo, it would be worth spending a couple of hundred dollars and getting a professional photographer to make up a selction of high qulity shots. I quite like the idea of bleeding the photo into the bio, maybe in a triangle on the bottom right of the page.

Remember, your bio is not a press release. It will accompany a press release, it will also accompany a demo or any material you want to send to someone.

Your bio gives you credibility. It says you are a professional and treat your music career as a business.

Make your Bio text effective

Why do you have a Bio? Is it to make you feel important? Is it written for a purpose? There may be many places where you can use a Bio, for example on a blog, on your music page or to get someone to do something.

I would hope it would be to get someone to do something. Today I am talking about the bio that you send to an A&R person, I record company, a publisher, or someone who you want to have buy or perform your music. In most cases this would be a document you would post, courier or give to that person.

You want the person who reads your bio to act, to listen to your demo, so the first thing you have to do is make them want to read it in the first place.

In advertising and writing news stories, my favourite formula has always been AIDA or AICDA. Attention, Interest, Desire and Action. the C in the second one stands for Conviction. So in simple terms:

Attention. Make them want to read the whole bio, which is I said yesterday, should be 2-4 paragraphs. Start with a line to grab their attention, just like a headline. It might be something compelling about you, or maybe something about the song the Bio accompanies.

Interest. Tell something interesting about yourself.

Interest. What is special or interesting about you, and here is something that I have learned from the media world, make it relevant to the specific reader. If I am sending out press releases, it’s not one size fits all, I modify it for each media or publication to make it relevant.

Desire, make them want to read more, or to become involved with you.

Conviction. Convince them that the time they spend reading your Bio and listening to your songs is going to be well spent and rewarding.

Action. Ask them to listen to your song and point out respectfully what you are asking from them. This is a business document and not just a whiny, please listen to my song cause mum said its really good.

Start with your most recent achievements first and given that you only have 4 paragraphs, make them short and snappy. Don’t use exaggerated praise, don’t say you are the best artist they have ever heard, be humble but confident.

You should have a short Bio

In many cases your Bio should be brief and to the point, a couple of paragraph’s is plenty in many cases. Most people who go onto pages like your MySpace page won’t read much more than that. If they want more they can read your blog.

Most people don’t really care where you were born, went to school and one a talent quest when you were 11. Tell them about your music style, your genre, what you think will make them want to know more about you and listen to your music. Tell them what you have achieved and what you have to offer. Think WIIFM (What’s In In For Me) Your Bio should be short and punchy.

At the end of your bio you can always have a note of where to contact you  or get more information.

Make your Bio fit for it’s purpose. You could end up with several of them.

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