How to Pick a Great Band Name

There’s nothing in a band name that makes a band great. If your music is great, your band could be named ‘the Bloodfarts from Hell’ and it won’t make any difference. You will be a great band. (There’s probably some kid reading this article right now thinking “dude! What a great name!”)

Let me ask you this – Can you think of some great bands with terrible names? I know I can. But it’s all subjective. I may say that name sucks and there’s a thousand people who will agree with me and a thousand who will disagree. So what makes a band name great?

Your band name means nothing – and everything. I remember as a teenager going into a record store in New Jersey with 5 bucks in my pocket. In 1974 that was enough to buy a brand new record and pay the state of New Jersey their sales tax.

I bought an album by Camel (not to be confused with Frampton’s Camel) the album was titled “Mirage”. Isn’t Camel a stupid name? I came to find out later Camel was a British band and British bands were my passion! It was their debut US album and it was phenomenal! I listened to that record a zillion times. You want to know the reason why I bought it? It wasn’t because of their name. It was because they had a cool looking album cover! The cover was an airbrushed painting of a camel on some alien landscape that looked like jagged rock candy. The cover appealed to me so I took a chance. What a crap-shoot!

Now back to my point about bands with really sucky names. What’s your opinion of ‘Dead Can Dance’? ‘Tears for Fears’? ‘The Dead Kennedys’? Do you think any of these bands failed because of their stupid name? No! They were all phenomenally successful in spite of their name.

If you are the rare band with incredible music and a super name, take Pink Floyd as a prime example, you are golden. What makes Pink Floyd such a great name? It is simply the way it sounds and the imagery it conjures up, along with the fact that it is hard to forget. Let me repeat that if you just missed it. It is the way it sounds and the imagery it conjures up and the fact it is memorable.

Is the band name you have in mind memorable? There’s a number of bands out there that have great music but their name seems to always elude me. Time and time again I ask ‘who is this band?” only to be told the name and guess what? The next time I hear their music, I can’t remember their frickin’ name!

What about the image the name evokes? What is imagery anyway? It is simply the mental picture your mind creates when you think of something. Hopefully for a band looking for a name, the one you come up with will fill the void of someone’s imagination AND actually resonate with your audience.

So here’s my two cents on choosing a band name. The name you choose should be clever and inspired. The cleverness will be what people remember, the imagery will come from your inspiration.

There’s a story of a band who was told they were going to fail. Someone said “They’ll sink like a lead zeppelin!” From that remark, ‘Led Zeppelin’ was created. The remark was their inspiration. Changing the lead to Led was clever. It made the name unique and easy to pronounce.

Musicians – please, don’t use a band name generator unless you’re just relying on chance to determine your name. By doing this you are removing the key element from a great band name. Inspiration. Start writing down names as the cosmic gods send them to you. Keep thinking about what your music is trying to say in words and those words will come to you, probably at the most inconvenient time.

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