Artist Bios #LoveToHate

Adaptistration People 133If there’s a reliable topic that can always get stakeholders talking, it’s artist bios. You’re sure to hear plenty about the mind-numbingly dull regurgitation of “where I’ve been,” “who I’ve performed with,” and “what I performed.” But complaining is easy; writing an engaging and thoughtful bio is hard.

This is exactly why so many artists struggle with the task. Those starting out or not overly focused on spotlight oriented positions haven’t had much need to think about crafting a good bio and hiring skilled copywriters is not inexpensive (although there are plenty of cheap ones out there).

Consequently, it caught my eye when I saw Chantal Incandela, professional bassist, private teacher, and writer, post the following on her Facebook wall:

So I occasionally write reviews and previews for classical music concerts. Is it a bit of a jump for me to say I want to write a biography now?

I’ve known Chantal for what must be years at this point; certainly, long enough that I don’t even recall when our paths crossed, and I can say she is one of the most creative and passionate professionals the field is fortunate enough to have.

It’s been awhile since we’ve covered this topic so let’s use Chantal’s wall post as an opportunity to jump in.

What do you like in a bio? What do you hate? If there were only two things you could change about all artist bios forever, what are they?

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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