When local music fans decide which bands and which venues to visit on a Friday or Saturday night, they often make up their minds within seconds. Sometimes it's the quality of the venue, sometimes it's the logistics, but quite often it's the name of the act that makes a difference. Giving your new band, group or even solo artist the right name is more important than you might realize; it's more than an artistic statement or a snarky social comment or literary homage. It's the one thing that will always go ahead of the artist(s) that claims it. The right band name accomplishes a lot of things for the group or artist, while the wrong one can turn off potential audiences and keep the door money low. Here are some reasons why choosing the right band name can be critical for a new group's success. If you are mainly opening for bigger artists, then your name is even MORE important for obvious reasons.
The right band/Artist name defines the band's sound or genre. Music lovers often scour the entertainment section of a newspaper or listings in an alternative tabloid to see what bands are playing soon. This means a listed band has only a few seconds to define its sound, musical influences and genre. A name like Chainsaw Kitten had better belong to a heavy metal band, while The Hayseeds would suggest an alt-country band. A generic name such as The Johnny Smith Band might not tell a reader anything, but Johnny Sicko and His Flying Monkey Robots would clearly define the band's punk or alternative sound. When selecting a name for your band, sound it out and consider how it would look if you were the one skimming the newspaper listings.
A good band/Artist name is memorable and distinctive. One thing most bands want to do is develop a core audience, fans who are willing to travel significant distances to support the group. This can only happen if the band's name becomes familiar and memorable. There may be dozens of working bands/artists in the area with forgettable names like The Rocker Boys or Young Gangsta, but only one band named "The Gee Whizzers"(Just an example folks). Early fans are going to remember that names, so when they discover "The Gee Whizzers" are playing at a bar in a city 30 miles away, they know immediately what they're going to hear and they already like it. It starts with a unique name that can stir up new interest while remaining memorable enough for older fans to find the listing.
A strong band/Artist name builds up mystique and intrigue. Many bands have aspirations of moving up in the music world. They hope that their unique progressive or art rock sound will set them apart from the usual bar cover bands surrounding them. One thing a well-chosen band name can do is create a sense of mystery about the band's musical direction. Choosing a cryptic or literary band name like The Doors or Pink Floyd provided those bands with an air of mystique. These were not regular musicians playing ordinary music-- they were musical geniuses taking their audiences on a quest. If your band's musical tastes run towards the experimental or exploratory, then it would be important to select an equally evocative or thought-provoking name.
A good band/Artist name is easier to promote. While selecting a controversial or provocative band name may be tempting, most of the bands with staying power choose names that can be pronounced, remembered and promoted in newspapers, TV, radio and posters. A friendly artist may be able to create a graphic or image based on the band's name, and fans may come up with their own ways to promote the band's name. This is why selecting a 10 word band name is not usually a good idea. People looking for a new band to check out want to see Three Hour Tour or Tent Sleeps Four, not When The Bough Breaks, The Cradle of Rock Shall Fall. A good band name should be original and promotable, not pretentious or deliberately obscure.
About Joey Cutless
Joey Cutless is a Music Producer, Composer & Engineer that has been a pioneer in online beat sales, TV licensing, and marketing of all things production related for over 15 years.