Writing a band biography
June 6, 2006 8:58 AM   Subscribe

I'd like to write a book about a band. Where do I start?

I've spoken to the band before, over e-mail, and a couple of times in person. They're accessible, well-spoken, have a smallish (but highly devoted) following, and have an interesting and somewhat dramatic past. I should be able to get interviews with them, at least online.

How do I go about this? I've never published anything, but I have written a novel, so I'm not particularly worried about the writing part of this. Do I pitch this to a publisher first? To the band themselves? Does anyone have any experience with this sort of thing?
posted by interrobang to Media & Arts (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Also, I'm currently gathering as many biographical links as possible, and have access to highly detailed discographies. I also *know* a lot about this band already—their history, side-projects, and so on.
posted by interrobang at 9:00 AM on June 6, 2006

Strikes me you'd want to ask the band prior to anyone else. If they are signed, you are going to investigate the legal aspects of this. Someone just provided me a great link to pro-bono entertainment lawyers - try this.
posted by j.p. Hung at 9:05 AM on June 6, 2006

If they are signed, you are going to (have to) investigate the legal aspects of this.
posted by j.p. Hung at 9:06 AM on June 6, 2006

Response by poster: They've been signed to several labels over the years—IRS Records (which no longer exists), and Virgin. They currently produce their own albums, and have reprinted most of them themselves.
posted by interrobang at 9:08 AM on June 6, 2006

I don't think you'd need their permission to write a book about them (it never stopped Kitty Kelly and her unauthorized biographies.) But it will be a better book if you have their cooperation, so approach them first. Then you can go to publishers with a proposal that includes their participation.

I don't think record labels would be an issue, either past or present, since they would only have rights to songs, not the band's story. But you may need to talk to them if you want to reprint lyrics, depending on the current state of those rights.
posted by InfidelZombie at 10:07 AM on June 6, 2006

Having some kind of confirmation that you have access to the band and secondary sources willing to talk to you helps get the proposal past the first editorial road-blocks. Working in a house that does music bio books, I see a lot of these proposals. It also helps if your proposal can give the editor a good idea of why this would work as a book and what kind of audience is there. I am happy to give you some direction on what works if you want to contact me via e-mail (e-mail in profile).
posted by rodz at 10:09 AM on June 6, 2006

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