How to choose a band name?
So you have some good songs, and rad friends you play music with. You have the support, the gear, and the will, but only one little thing is missing – what to call this project of future rock and roll stars.
Choosing a band name, seemingly simple, yet when scribbling out random words, it becomes clear how daunting this task can be. This name will be forever associated with what you create, glued to your art that you and your friends have struggled for hours to perfect. It can elevate your music and image to a higher level or sink your project before it truly gets off the ground. No Stress. In the end, if your music is good enough it will define your name and not the other way around. While some will give too little thought to their potential band name, there are certainly some things to keep in mind.
When picking a band name remember that this is also going to become your brand. Do not, however, let marketing dictate your decision. The name you choose has to be something you resonate with.
10 tips to keep in mind when coming to a decision:
- Easy to remember
- Strong imagery
- Positive association
- Write the music first
- Think about where you come from, or where you practice
- Listen to how other people describe you
- Pick something that matches your sound
- Don’t force it
- Do your research to locate band names already taken
- Make sure everyone in the band likes the name
Shorter or longer names both have benefits. In today’s musical market with more and more artists vying for attention the key factor is what ‘sets’ you apart – be that a name, sound, image, and/or all of the above. The truth is your music will help to define your image. And picking a name should be easier said than done. Try something that will stick in people’s minds and that you have a more positive association with than anything else. If you have trouble deciding ask friends. Flip a coin. You don’t have to rush the decision-making process either. Choosing a name is a very personal thing. Give it as much thought as you think it’s worth.
The Band Jethro Tull is a classic example of a band that could never settle on a name. They would notoriously change it every gig until ‘Jethro Tull’ finally stuck. Led Zeppelin is another example of a great band that didn’t quite have its identity early on – They started out as “The New Yardbirds” to fill contractual dates. Once they had recorded an album they were told to drop the name under threat of a lawsuit. Jimmy Page remembered that Keith Moon said sarcastically that what they were doing would go over like a Lead Balloon. So replacing balloon with zeppelin and dropping the ‘A’ from Lead, so as not to be confused with “Leed” – Led Zeppelin was born. Staying true to Jimmy Page’s idea of heavy and light.
How about a stage name vs. your own name? If you’re a solo artist, the thought of using anything but your real name may not have occurred to you. And honestly, most of the time, using your given name is going to work just fine. After all, what represents you better than the name you’ve been using your whole life? But if you have a really common name, one that might be overly hard to pronounce, or even one that you simply feel doesn’t suit your music – for whatever reason – don’t shy away from the idea of adopting a stage name. You won’t be the first musician to do it. I think we have all heard the theories on how Bob Dylan might have fared had he stuck with Robert Zimmerman. And you can’t help but wonder if Iggy Pop would have had the same impact had he gone by James Osterberg.
Another healthy task to help would be creating a “Statement of Difference”. By taking the time to write down a “Statement of Difference” you’re making a clear and deliberate choice about who you want to be and how you want to affect your listeners. Think about what sounds more comfortable when you say it. Imagine speaking the words during a show and see how it feels. Looking at it on an album cover or a poster, which makes you most excited. If you feel slightly uncomfortable speaking or seeing a certain name pick another one.
When all is said and done, be yourself. Try not to over analyze it! Remember the reasons why you started a band or started playing music in the first place. Finding something truly original can be tough so try taking the angle of just finding something that works for you.
Remember to have fun with it and congratulations on starting a new band!