Canadian music scene

Speaking at Kismet Thoughts – SAT APR 8 – FREE!

This Saturday, April 8 at 215 Spadina Street in Toronto I’ll be leading a FREE talk on Grant Writing & Planning for Kismet Thoughts from 12 p.m.- 2 p.m.

It’s not a panel so I’m solo on this thing but am going to be presenting a version of what I teach my students at Trebas in a condensed, casual style.

FB RSVP linked HERE 

With grant season just around the corner, don’t let this happen to you!

Why you Need More than 1 Band Biography to Get Attention

Here’s an industry secret on band biographies:  the ones who get the most publicity have more than 1.

There’s three kinds of band biographies. A short 1-paragraph bio, a medium 2-3 length bio, and a full page bio.

1 paragraph approach is great because it’s the most direct line – people will follow up if they need more info but these are the basics that need to be included.  Think of this as your elevator pitch.  If you’ve cornered your favourite magazine or head of Universal THIS is how you would sell your band.

  1. Your band name and hometown
  2. Who you sound like (You’ve heard the whole, if Zepplin had a love child with Chromeo we’d be its illegitimate offspring before, right? No? Well, if you’re stuck this metaphor technique helps.)
  3. Who you’ve played with/notable successes
  4. Why anyone should give a shit about your band, rather, what makes you special

Plus, if you’re cold- emailing someone, this is the most professional approach as you’re not just copying and pasting a whole whack of content a promoter, agent or radio station didn’t ask for. If you’re clear and concise, you’ll stand apart from the rest. A 1 paragraph can easily be copied and pasted for live show bylines at clubs/venues web promo and filter through others like radio, blog and photographers. It really pays to have this prepared.

Now if you’ve just done something noteworthy like win a songwriting competition, achieved a landmark in crowd-funding or shot a music video that’s gone viral, that’s where background information in form of word length can help you. Tell the reader why the director of the music video is important to you or what relationship you have with them that’s going to make it an international hit.  Explain the meaning of the song in relation to the music video content. If you’ve had other music videos become popular mention the song names and if possible hit counts or where the video led to the song being placed or an artist of note that was a fan of the video.

A full page band bio is basically your EPK with a photo all web links and press highlights on top of artist history, discography, and notable successes.  Make sure you have a PDF of this in addition to high res band portrait photographs as it’s principally used for publicity/journalism.

One thing to hammer home here is making sure that your bio is CURRENT and free of spelling mistakes. And whatever you do, don’t fabricate any facts or quotes.

Conferences, festivals and media outlets all have different needs. These bios mean that you can adjust to them and are the perfect fit for them.

And if you’re not sure how to write a band bio, check out this post I wrote last year.


How to Write a Band Biography

As a journalist I’ve received thousands of band biographies.  Some of my favourites have been done by fellow music journalists (the David Byrne St. Vincent one made me happy to sign their name signed at the end).  For the most part though, a band biography and subsequent press release are best left to the professionals or at least someone OUTSIDE the band to edit it.

Some basics that should be included:

-          When the band was founded

-          Full names of the members (or at least full stage names) and what they play

-          Hometown (I love seeing that a band is from Tweed, as it separates you from all the other Toronto bands)

-          Accomplishments (awards, who you’ve opened for)

-          Showcase highlights (SXSW, NXNE, Bluesfest)

-          Tour history- or where you’re headed

-          Short press quotes` (1-2 sentences)

-          list where you’ve been  featured (NPR, CBC, Le Voir)

-          Important people associated with you e.g. producer extraordinaire loves you – as a journalist we want to see what makes you different

-          What your songs and music are about in a very CONCISE manner

-          Influences or how you got into music e.g. “After stumbling Kurt Cobain was given a bootleg tape of The Doughboys he began to rethink melodies…” or “After singer X’s mother died of cancer, her songwriting took an introspective turn and she began to explore new themes of morality and fear in her lyric writing that is heard in the new urgency of singer X’s guitar playing.”

-          Links to all of your social media and websites with links to where we can hear your music

-          Link to a high resolution downloadable photo (do NOT mass email giant files like this as journalists and promoters won’t even open it)

-          Contact information!!

All of this should be contained in no more than 3 paragraphs unless you are The National, but even then, they definitely have a 1 paragraph go-to.

Your biography should be something that promoters can copy and paste to your event listing that tells your future audience exactly who you are, not who you’re trying to be.

What should NOT be included:

-          Cliches!

-          Lies (journalists are VERY good at Googling to find out that you haven’t won an award or played on Conan.)

-          Avoid grand statements, e.g. My band is breaking new ground, their sound is incomparable, well I need to know if you sound like the Stills or The Clash,

YouRockRed is happy to help you write YOUR band biography or edit your current one.  Pricing starts at just $50 for editing services and $150 for full band biographies.  YouRockRed bios have helped clients across North American and Europe- they’ve even been translated into Greek! 

Send us an email today and let’s talk about your kick-ass band bio that’ll break down doors for future gigs.

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New government fees for international touring musicians to hurt ALL Canadian music fans

We were covering the DIY or DIE series, but the Canadian Government is about to ruin the live music scene for all music fans.  Effective July 31 all international musicians will be subject to a $275 application fee to perform in Canada (including all supporting tour managers, roadies, etc.) and another $150 if successful.  This is unacceptable and even more infuriating as Canadian citizens were not consulted on a decision that would ultimately cost them the freedom to enjoy their favourite music.  These are non-refundable fees for EACH venue they perform at, whereas before it was a one-time fee of $150 to enter Canada to a max of $450.

This is not just about the bar owners, booking agents and promoters who are now facing tough choices about what bands they can book.

Music is our culture.  We are influenced by music from all over the world. If we’re supposed to be a multi-cultural shining light for the rest of the world, how are we to represent this without being able to afford to pay the performers?

Promoters are already taking a personal gamble in booking concerts.  I should know, I’ve been doing it for years.  If a band guarantee is $500 and you’re expecting 70-100 people at $10/each you’re barely going to break even.  The local openers certainly won’t be paid.  The sound person will be grumpy that you can’t tip him.  Even just buying drink tickets for the band may not be possible.

International touring bands already have fees that people aren’t aware of.  Accommodations and food are often included in riders and if the promoter can’t cover these there is usually a “buy-out” option of per diem for them.  Just getting across the border with the proper visa prior to July 31 was a risk (Hence why more than a few bands have sent their merch to my home to pick up once they’re in town.)

Now for a band with 4 members and 1 touring support staff the cost would be $2,125/per show.  There is NO way an average indie band from Portland or whatever with an album or two could recover this cost from a 100-200 person venue.  This would not cover the band guarantee, accommodations, or per diem.  Even then, the shows would have to be packed and ticket prices would have to be HIGH.

Throughout the summer I’ve been lucky enough to hit up some amazing festivals with artists from all around the world.  Bjork from Iceland, Father John Misty from the States, and I’m seeing Alt J from England tomorrow.  Taking away the option to enjoy live music is going to hurt our cultural community, economy and ultimately the reputation of Canada.  We are not anti-arts, we just have someone in charge who doesn’t get the importance of supporting musicians with different passports.

If you agree that this new fee needs to be abolished please visit’s petition.  They’re already at about 130,000 signatures and need another 20,000 for it to be re-visited in Parliament. 

Alternatively, if you live in Ottawa, come on down to Babylon tonight where a protest/fundraiser is taking place with live music from Dany Laj and Atherton.