Band Names in the Internet Age
A Tale of Two Bands
I received a demo from a London rock band Polinski that I liked very much even though it was outside of the Indie genre. About a year later I had a single from Polanski, firmly in the Indie camp and very proficient. Now Polinski are pretty obscure and may well have split up in 2002 - and Polanski are just as obscure (even the record company that produced the first single/demo don't seem to mention them).
Google has serious problems at the moment so searching for anything obscure is just about impossible - but let's try Yahoo which has re-emerged as by far the best search engine. Search for "Polinski" and you find my review of their demo CD as result number 2 (Polinski is a not uncommon and Dr Leaonard is number one). At number 4 and 5 you find results from Polinski.co.uk even though that is a redirected site whose actual pages are on www.jenny.dircon.co.uk.
Now try searching for "Polanski" and what you get are a load of pages about Roman Polanski - a rather famous film director. It just so happens that my review of their single does feature at number 12 but there's no other info.
What To Know
The lesson - uniqueness is important. Many bands name themselves after cultural references (books, films, people) but need to make sure they are obscure otherwise they will drowned in the search engines. The difference can be very small - I'm currently listening to "Buddhas of Suburbia" and they do ok in searches - all due to the "s" in "Buddhas" otherwise they would be competing with the television program and the Bowie soundtrack album. There is, of course, the possibility that the algorithms of the search engines may start to ignore plurals in words they recognise rather than just give you a message of 'were you searching for..'
The Biggest Mistake
Anyone heard of the band 'A' - I think they are on tour as I write this article. Obviously "A" is going to be very difficult to find so you make the query more precise by searching for "band A" and what does Google tell you:
"a" is a very common word and was not included in your search
Yahoo doesn't tell you it ignores the word "A" but looking at the results it obviously does and just serves the results for "band".
If you are currently trying to think of a name for a band then try typing it into a search engine. There's a band called "January" and if you type that into Google you get 211 million results and 302 million in Yahoo. That should tell you immediately that it is a bad name. Also think about how well regarded the name might be - there is a January magazine and loads of important websites that classify their entries by month. You're on a loser to call yourself after any month.
If you really think you are going to be massive then maybe you can relax a bit. The UK boy band "Blue" are very big and must have thousands of fansites dedicated to them. Because of this, the official "Blue" site does appear as number 1 on Google (no other Blue sites appear on the first page) but it is only number 7 on Yahoo.
The other thing to think about is whether your band name's website is available - Blue had to choose the name www.officialblue.com for their site. If your band name isn't available in the .com or your local TLD (co.uk/.de/.fr etc) then think again.
The Best Name Ever?
I suggest "The Beatles". What a corny name - we are a "beat" group so we'll call ourselves The Beatles which sounds like The Beetles. If there had been an Internet in 1964 then only Beatles related site would have appeared in that search. It's so corny (and frankly lame/naff) that everyone in the early days must have learnt very quickly how it was spelt.
Good names for the Internet
Bad names for the Internet