Friday, May 7, 2010

Giving the Band a name - Give it some thought

It is amazing to hear some of the names bands chose. Some simply use the front man name, such as Dave Matthews Band, some get more creative like ABBA ( band members initials) and others simply try on some at random until one sticks, hence Jethro Tull ( YES people it is a band name and no one in the band is Jethro Tull ). But what makes a great band name?


Naming anything is something to give serious thought to, and choosing a band name is no exception. The name is something you want people to remember, name recognition is a powerful thing. But before you go all out and decide to call yourselves “The Kissing Piranhas “ or “Velcroites”  here are some things to consider:

  1. Ease of spelling - How many times did Lynyrd Skynyrd have their name spelt wrong? 
  2. Is another band using it? - Sorry guys, the Sex Pistols is taken. Not only do you need to be careful not to use famous band names, but avoid being similar to the local band as well.
  3. Avoid trademarked names - Go ahead, call yourself “Pepsi” and spend your time in court.
  4. Run away from the zzz’s and the mo’s - Hip hop and rap is loaded with them. Overloaded with Daddy’s as well.
  5. Does it fit your genre and band style? - Can you picture the riot happening at a show if a band called ‘Crunk Dayzzz’ hit the stage in cowboy boots belting out bluegrass?
  6. How are you going to Brand the band? - the name is going to play a very important role. Using an Eagle logo and calling yourself ‘Bluebirds” is not going to work.
  7. MOST important! - Is it marquee friendly? - The S#!theads or the F#%king Robots just won’t get you headliner status.

Be creative, and if you get stuck on choosing one, here is some of the famous bands names and how they came about to inspire you:

BAD COMPANY
A 1972 movie starring Jeff Bridges.

BLACK SABBATH
Named after a 1963 horror movie starring Boris Karloff. They released an album as Earth before changing their name to Black Sabbath.

CHICAGO
Their first album was released as Chicago Transit Authority, then the city of Chicago sued them. Chicago Transit Authority is the name of Chicago's public transportation department.

FOREIGNER
British guitarist Mick Jones started the band in New York. Since he was a foreigner that became the name.

GREEN DAY
If you smoked pot and goofed off all day, you just had a 'Green Day'.

JETHRO TULL
Jethro Tull was a British inventor/farmer in the 1800's who invented the precursor to the modern plow. The band used to change their name to get gigs, and Jethro Tull proved to be a lucky one. Flutist Ian Anderson still dislikes the name.

LYNYRD SKYNYRD
Named after Robert E. Lee High school gym coach, Leonard Skinner, who punished founding members Gary Rossington and Bob Burns several times for breaking the school's strict dress code which did not allow boys to have long hair touching the collar or sideburns below the ears. Earlier band names were 'Noble Five' and 'One Percent'.

THREE DOG NIGHT
While trying to think of a name that would show that the band had three lead singers, they nearly settled on 'Tricycle', until singer Danny Hutton's girlfriend came up with a suggestion. She had read a magazine article about the Australian aborigines, who on cold nights, would sleep beside their dogs for warmth. The very coldest weather was called a "three dog night".

SMITHS
They wanted a generic name void of any preconceptions about their style of music.
STEPPENWOLF
The band was originally called 'Sparrow', until lead singer John Kay came up the new name after being inspired by a novel by cult author Herman Hesse.
QUEEN
Freddie Mercury liked the name for the transvestite connotation and the glamorous image of Queens in royalty.
LED ZEPPELIN
The Yardbirds were just wrapping up their final US tour before splitting up. Guitarist Jimmy Page was determined to keep the act going, renaming a new line-up The New Yardbirds. Keith Moon of The Who is rumored to have said "...it'll probably go over like a led zeppelin", thus inspiring the final name change. The 'Led' spelling was to make sure people pronounced the name right.
GRATEFUL DEAD
Refers to a series of Old English folk tales with the same basic theme. A traveler enters a village and finds the villagers desecrating, or refusing to bury the body of a dead man because he died owing creditors money. The traveler pays the dead man's debts and sees to a decent burial. Later in his travels the man is saved by a mysterious event, which is credited to the dead man's grateful spirit. Hence, the Grateful Dead. The band was originally the Warlocks, and picked Grateful Dead out of a dictionary after realizing there was another band called the Warlocks.
Or if all else fails, ask the Ouija Board …. rumor has it CHEAP TRICK and ALICE COOPER did.

Would love to hear your story about how you chose your band name.

Later........Renagade
Renagade offers Branding the Band consultations

2 comments:

Gypsy Trading Company said...

Wow... all very good points Great insights here to bands.

John Ziemba said...

Creating a viable name for your band or E-commerce site is critical. The original names of the more successful bands mentioned are noteworthy, because what levels of success could they have achieved with them? Not as much, I think. My own site Shake and Bake Trading Co was based on earthquakes (shake) and Southern Cal's summer weather(bake). What you name your business, is the one you'll be ID with, so choose carefully.