20-Aug-2021 (Fri)
Wherein your band's bio sucks.

(I've posted most of this before over the years, but it's time for some updates.)


So you're performing at DNA Lounge, or booking a show here. Great! We want people to come to the show. To accomplish that, we want to tell people who are unfamiliar with the artists why they should attend.

For that, we need blurbs.

Here are the DNA Lounge Rules For Writing a Blurb That Does Not Suck:

The target audience of these blurbs is a potential customer who is not familiar with the artist, and who is trying to decide whether they would enjoy this show.

So please do include things like:

  1. What genre of music do they play?
  2. How would one describe their music? Quotes from reviews in the press are great here. Failing that, influences or other performers that they sound like.
  3. Names of previous projects, if any.
  4. If there's something special about their stage show or instrumentation, mention that. (People want to have some sense of, "Am I going to see a full band, or some guy standing behind a laptop?")

Things that are OK to include, but that we feel are not like to cause someone to attend the show, are:

  1. Where are they from,
  2. What other bands have they played with recently;
  3. Did someone say something nice about their latest album.

If you have answered at least questions 1-3 in paragraph form, you will have written a decent blurb. Congratulations!

Things that you should not include in a blurb are:

  1. That they are performing at DNA Lounge;
  2. The date that they are performing at DNA Lounge;
  3. Also performing are "X, Y and Z" or "On tour with X, Y and Z".
  4. "Don't miss this great show", "be there or be square", "please please please attend", etc., etc.

We've already established that they're playing here, on what date, with whom, and it should go without saying that we'd like people to show up. Don't just repeat all of that in sentence-form.

Also please omit:

  1. They have been remixed by XYZ;
  2. They have "caught the attention of" XYZ;
  3. They were played on radio station XYZ;
  4. Last year they toured with XYZ;
  5. They have ten zillion streaming plays;
  6. They won an award (unless it's a Grammy or something).

Tell people why they will like them, not a list of other people who like them.

Nobody in the history of ever has said to themselves, "Well I wasn't going to come to that show, but now that I have read that they have ten zillion streams, I have changed my mind."

And to illustrate how this can all go wrong, here are some egregious examples of blurbs that we have been sent, mildly censored to protect the guilty. These are all terrible in that they do not communicate anything that would make someone attend the show if they weren't already planning to.

If your blurb sounds like one of these, your blurb is bad and you should feel bad.

  1. The "Come to this party, it will party more than any party has partied" blurb:

    Join us on DATE at DNA Lounge for PARTY, featuring all the new rising Bay Area talent! This month come check out up and coming dubstep sensation SOMEONE! Also joining us will be SOMEONE ELSE and many other local artists that are ready to lay down some heavy bass lines and fat beats.

  2. The "I will assert greatness without saying anything" blurb:

    Three Bay Area GENRE bands, A, B and C, come together under one roof at DNA Lounge for an incredible showcase on Thursday, SOME DATE. Expanding the beautiful realm between SOME GENRES, these hand-picked bands push the boundaries of buzz bands right through to the bigger picture: great indie music, created by lovers of great indie music.

  3. The "appeal to authority" blurb:

    BAND is the name of CITY's AGE-year-old producer, REAL NAME. NAME works out of his bedroom creating his unique brand of music. His music has been featured on LONG LIST OF WEB SITES YOU DON'T READ and many more. His breakout album has gained worldwide praise and attention from superstars like THREE FAMOUS PEOPLE and many more. Don't miss this rare showcase of raw talent!

  4. The "I plagiarized this directly from Wikipedia" blurb:

    BAND is an American GENRE band that was formed in CITY in YEAR.

    Yeah, I'm gonna stop you right there. The Wikipedia house style is intentionally dry and stultifyingly boring, and while it may communicate certain facts, it will not convince anyone to come to a show.

  5. This one's evocative, I guess, in that I can actually smell the dirty scalp and ball-sweat and skunk-weed just from reading it:

    DUDE has been in the right place at the right time. The avid skater met esteemed workaholic producers WHO? and WHO? at a 2007 PARTY in CITY and later became immersed in CITY'S weekly hot spot CLUB, witnessing the SOME DJs tear it up on the regular. An INJURY forced DUDE to take a year off from skating, which allowed him to focus on his music. He eventually ended up rooming with WHO? and WHO?, absorbing the rampaging, wonkily funky sounds he heard in his living space and then peace-ing them out into more blissful configurations.

  6. The "exhaustive timeline and list of members" blurb:

    BAND was founded by DUDE and OTHER DUDE in 2004 as an outlet for experimenting with electronic music. With the addition of THIRD DUDE in 2005, BAND released their first album WHATEVER on the WHO CARES label in 2006. After several weeks of topping SOME INDUSTRY CHART YOU'VE NEVER HEARD OF and a handful of shows in the U.S. and Mexico, BAND went on a long hiatus while DUDE starting putting together material that would advance and not copy other electronic music. In 2010 ANOTHER DUDE joined BAND and the genre-bending album WHATEVER was written and conceived. Upon the release of THAT AGAIN in 2011 BAND divided audiences and critics.

    ...and it goes on like this for three more paragraphs.

In summary, blurbs are a land of contrasts. It is difficult to write a good one. Writing about music is hard. Writing about yourself can be even harder. But getting it right will help the shows attract new fans and succeed, so you gotta do it.

5 Responses:

  1. Jon says:

    Can you point to what you think is a good blurb by your rules?

    • jwz says:

      Just looking at a few events coming up in the next month, I think that the Star Crash, Lich King and (to a lesser extent) Peekaboo blurbs are pretty good. They tell you what you're gonna get, in a clear way.

      • Jon says:

        Thanks! I will keep your post bookmarked just in case my band is ever to play again publicly. Would have helped me before. :-)

  2. ContextSans says:

    This sounds like the prompts for a Fake DNA Lounge Tracery bot.

  3. Joe Luser says:

    earlier today your email newsletter arrived and reading it, i was struck by the blurb for FARTBARF who somehow i had never before heard or heard of. i have spent the last 4 hours or so with FARTBARF playing loudly and very very much enjoying it. i'm likely not the specific target audience for most of your bands, but if one of them decides i am, they could do far worse than hiring FARTBARF's blurb writer to target me.

    Fartbarf are a band of neanderthal spacemen who play vintage analog synthesizers. The things are notorious for drifting out of tune, are really expensive, really hard to maintain, are very temperamental, and they weigh a lot. Coupled with instruments that are very crude and simple in their basic form (such as vocoders, drum machines, analog modular systems, and live drums), Fartbarf uses those limitations to create their music in a way that others normally wouldn't be able to. Nowadays with electronic music, you have unlimited amounts of plug-ins, and computer programs, so you could sit there all day tweaking around, and get nothing done. Vintage gear aside, they somehow bring us all into the future, captivating audiences with relentless melodies, robotically tight rhythms, and danceable beat

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