Who would have thought that finding the perfect band name could be a pain in the ass? Your job was to make beautiful songs, not come up with a witty, unforgettable, easy-to-remember but unique band name. All of this fuss is connected to music marketing and damn, you really hate that job. But wait a minute, you know that indie musicians are supposed to be jacks and jills of all trade, right? You have to do all the big and small things. Therefore, back to brainstorming for that perfect band name.
To help you with your suffering, here are our tips on crafting the best name for your band:
IT SHOULD BE CULTURAL
Onomastics (a fancy word for “naming”) as it applies to musical acts is about context. The classifications came from a 1992 essay by Adrienne Lehrer, a linguistics professor at the University of Arizona, that explored how we name everything from bands to streets to cars. Lehrer argued that we understand a given phrase as belonging to a certain category not because of anything inherent in the words themselves, but because of how they relate to other known members of that category.
“Just as a competent speaker of a natural language is expected to know the vocabulary, so he is expected to know the common names,” Lehrer argued. “Someone who did not recognize John and Mary as personal names or London and New York as place names could hardly be considered completely competent in English.”
The best way to come up with a recognizable band name, in other words, is to pick something that’s not too far off from what everyone else is doing.
THINK OF YOUR BRANDING
Defining your brand (aka your band’s personality that you want to emulate) is not as organic as you think. You have to find out and be clear about your personality, your tone and voice (which will reflect in your posts, your website, etc), the colors that best reflect you and so forth. You cannot separate your band name from all of these elements. It is best to think of these things at the beginning than constantly changing your brand.
THERE SHOULD BE A CLEAR MARKETING STRATEGY
Your band name should have a clear marketing strategy in a sense that you can maximize the name itself to promote your music and your band. Don’t just come up with a name you find fancy. The moment you decide on a name, think of the possible marketing strategy. Better yet, think of the outcome first, what you want to achieve, then work backwards.
THINK OF SOMETHING UNIQUE BUT NOT TOO OBSCURE
You want to be remembered that’s why you want a unique name, yet be careful in becoming too unique that people would have a hard time remembering either.
LIST DOWN BAND NAME IDEAS DAILY
Coming up with a good band name (like any other name) is not ever easy even if you know the rules. The simple rule that beats the other rules is this: You will know it once you see it. List 20-30 names daily and let your band mates do it as well. One day, you’ll find the best one. We hope it’s sooner than later.
GET OTHER PEOPLE’S OPINIONS
Test the names and let others be the judge. Don’t just get the opinion of writers, art directors, marketers…make sure you get the opinion of regular folks as well. Can they recall the name? Do they find it intriguing? Does your music and band match your name?
We hope these tips are useful and in case you do need to print marketing stuff for your band (posters, merch, CD, vinyl, dropcards, etc), we’re here for you. Good luck!
James Hill is a veteran of the music industry. He first worked at Warner Reprise Records then later joined Interscope/ Geffen Records where he managed producers and songwriters and got his first platinum record for Keyshia Cole’s The Way It Is. He is now helping indie artists with branding and manufacturing through his company Unified Manufacturing, a CD/DVD/vinyl and merch company in LA.