One of the most difficult tasks in the early days of a band’s journey is deciding on a name. Often, the band name will be the first impression a potential fan gets of who you are, and they may judge your music based on this before they have even heard it.
It may be a subconscious judgement when this happens, but most people are guilty of it. Maybe you’ve seen a five-word name on a festival bill or one that was completely unpronounceable and avoided going to their set, assuming they were ’emo’ or ‘hipster music’. Foolish, maybe (they could end up being your favourite band in the world!), but often, some kind of association between words, name length and characters used makes a real impression.
Teenage bands are notorious for being terribly named. Maybe an in-joke is hilarious to you, but if the rest of the world doesn’t get it, it’s not a good idea. It’s also worth remembering that if you do happen to do very well, the name will stick. It’s very difficult to change the name of a band once you have gained some momentum. It’s a laborious processes involving new social media pages, loss of digital fans, expensive merchandise becoming worthless and being constantly referred to by your old name.
Here are six tips to ensure that you make a wise decision.
Check that the name isn’t already in use.
This is so important. It can be pretty disheartening when every good idea you come up with seems to be taken, but this must be step one. Google it!
Even if it’s a small, unsigned band halfway around the world from you, when it comes to putting your music on Spotify, iTunes, or Youtube, you don’t want this causing confusion. It’s a much better idea to come up with something original.
Is it easy to pronounce?
Ideally, you want someone to understand your name straight away when shouted across the room in a noisy music venue, because at your first gigs, that’s when the potential fans will be asking.
Is the domain/Twitter/Facebook page free?
There are ways around this one, but having ‘yourbandname-dot-com’ free makes life much easier when you’re developing your web presence. It makes it easier for people to find you when it’s that simple.
If you’re in love with your chosen name and this is the only hiccup, however, it can be dealt with. Hyphens, underscores, ‘thisisyourbandname’, ‘yourbandnameonline’, helloyourbandname’ – you get the idea.
What happens when you search Google/Youtube?
If you choose an overly generic word it can be a nightmare for anyone who wants to find your music. For example, say you name your band ‘Dogs’. Type that into Youtube and you’ll get thousands of pages of cute dog videos. Even if you type in ‘Dogs Music’ you get pages of ‘dog relaxation music’ – apparently that’s a thing. Try and make it easy for people to find you online. Though, if you’re good enough, they’ll find a way to track you down. If you’re going for the cool, elusive thing – that’s alright too. Good luck!
Is it dated/overly current?
This is a matter of personal taste, but consider it. Names beginning with ‘The’ can seem a bit dated and somewhat bland now – while ‘one word, plural’ names seem very ‘on trend’. Are you trying to be on-trend, represent your genre, or do you not really care? Once you know what you’re going for, it’s all good.
Does it represent your music and personalities?
It definitely doesn’t have to, but it can work well when it does. If there’s an experience the band members have shared together, maybe you can draw inspiration from that. If you think your music brings to mind certain imagery or a certain location, go in that direction. Brainstorming and using a thesaurus helps. Other ideas are to use foreign languages, combine different words into one, or even invent words.
Once these six points have been considered, enjoy the process of naming your band. The next steps can include thinking of how logo ideas can be formed from the name, and how the name will look on your merchandise and if worse comes to worse have a company help you, companies like Gold PR are very good at brand recognition. Go all out; if you have a drummer, get a custom kick drum skin! The branding and promotion of your music can really all begin from here.