Dear Artists and Artist Managers, Help Us Help You. Here’s What You Need To Provide For Promo Pics And Bios

Adaptistration People 197It isn’t unfair to say most orchestra marketers have anywhere from 5-20 minutes per event for compiling all the related artist information. That includes promo images, bios, and any program specific copy.

Unfortunately, too many artists and/or their managers make those tasks so difficult that there’s simply no way to end up with a good result.

So as a service, here are some tips for what you can do to help everyone out there working to promote you and your art.


  1. You need two types of promotional images: print and web quality.
  2. Web quality images are what you’ll need most often. These have small file sizes to keep page load speeds fast. Landscape (images that are wider than they are high) and square aspect ratios work best. Portrait aspect ratios can be tricky to use so only use as a last resort. As of 2019, here are good web quality image specs:
    1. 768pixel to 1280pixel wide images (the height will be determined by the aspect ratio).
    2. JPG or PNG format.
    3. 20% quality (don’t panic, this is plenty for web use). If you need help going about creating an optimized web image, no worries, I’ve got you covered. Here are a few options with step by step instructions.
    4. Max file size should by 100kb.
  3. Print quality images are used for…wait for it…print media, like brochures and mailers. Those images need to be around 300dpi, 3200px wide, and 5MB in file size. Good news here is the files from your photographer are almost certainly in this format already, so feel free to use those as-is.


  1. Provide all promotional content in DOC/DOCX, not PDF. Let me repeat that: do not force anyone to use PDF files as a copy/paste source. Ever.
    1. Note: anyone sending a bio in .pages format will be deported to a rapidly melting iceberg off the coast of Antarctica.
  2. Here’s why PDF files are the spawn of Satan: PDF are not made for copy/paste tasks, instead, they are made for reading. PDF files add a bunch of junk formatting and require manually removing along with manually correcting line and paragraph breaks, lost spaces, and host of other formatting nightmares.
  3. Use standard fonts (Arial, Times Roman, or Open Sans).
    1. Remember, the purpose of this document is to use as a copy/paste source. All of the extra formatting you add is something marketers and content managers have to spend removing.
    2. If you want arts marketers to love you, create special versions of promotional material for different purposes; such as one with all of the nice-looking bells and whistles in PDF and DOC/DOCX but another with the basic formatting that makes copy/paste dreamy.
    3. Font styles should be limited to bold and italics. Pretty please, don’t use underlines and don’t indent the opening of each paragraph.
  4. Google Docs are a mixed blessing. They still have a bit of copy/paste fail nonsense, but they have the benefit of being readily accessible. Fortunately, Google has been making steady improvements on the junk formatting end of things so go right ahead and use.


  1. Remember when I mentioned arts marketers only have 5-20 minutes? Now imagine the end-product if they are forced to spend 50+ percent of that time tracking down your content. Make images (both print and web quality) and bio copy easy to find and downloadable.
  2. If you want to make sure all your content remains current across all your web and social media platforms, keep all your downloadable content inside a single publicly accessible cloud storage platform. This will make it super easy to update as needed, just be sure to remove old versions.
  3. A special note to artist managers: if you cling to the notion that keeping promotional photos and bios behind a contact wall is a good approach, you’re living in a delusional fantasy world and need to retire. Sorry for being blunt but you’re nothing more than a giant time-suck of a problem.

In the end, if you follow these tips, arts marketers will love working with you and you’ll enjoy the best possible promotional campaigns they can provide. #WinWin

Bonus: if you want the shorter, NSFW version of today’s post, swing by this post from my Facebook wall.

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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