What’s the single most important thing in getting a band off the ground? Talent? Songs? Image? None of the above I’m afraid. You’ll not be able to showcase your talents without a band name.
I’m not going to tell you how to come up with your name but I am going to advise you on how to look after it. The name should be carefully considered. What does it mean? Will it offend? Does it contain unwanted innuendos? Is it suitably related to the genre of music you plan to play? Essentially a band name should be memorable; it’s your calling card. When people hear your name they should want to hear your music, two examples are How to Destroy Angels and Fight Like Apes. Even though they’re quite long they’re both quite memorable and have in my experience created quite an impression.
Before you get the t-shirts/mugs/tea cosies/CDs/custom made bongs printed do a little research to make sure no one else has claimed your band name. Consider Westlife as a prime example of what not to do. They originally were named Westside but it turned out the National Band Register had records of EIGHT other bands that have Westside in the title, including a French band called Westside Boyz. Other bands that had this problem include The Raconteurs which are known in Australia as The Saboteurs to avoid conflict with a jazz band of the same name. All this can be extremely costly. So how do you check if other bands are using your precious name? Well there’s the usual "Google it" search for domain names registered in that name. If there are none now’s the time to snap it up quick. You can also apply to register your band name with the Band Register. This is a commercial run operation and many music lawyers have subscribed as a means of searching for band names on behalf of clients. If you find that another band is using your name it’s not the end of the road. You are not obliged to change it unless requested. Many bands base their cases on reputation and can negotiate permission for use of their name quite easily. All this is best done ASAP so the band doesn’t end up too attached to their name.
It also is very important to decide who owns the band name. This is vital to prevent conflict down the line if the band splits or loses a member. A record company will never ever own the name unless it is that of a manufactured pop act. Every band should have this included in their band agreement. Although preferable this document does not have to be drawn up by a lawyer. There are several options. All, some or one of the member could own the name. Many bands come to the conclusion that in the case of a split no-one uses the band’s name. However if the band splits in two there could be conflict over usage. There is no simple solution to this problem so it’s best to sit down and amicably discuss this and potential circumstances with the rest of the band.
Greenday infamously set down the road of punk many years ago. Rebelling the system these lads have now contradicted their anarchist views by capitalising on one of the biggest merchandising deals around. Their albums have become more polished as have their bank books when they sold their souls to the industry devils. At the moment branding isn’t something your band might be considering but it will be inescapable down the line if you become successful. At this stage in your career it is quite useful to have some sort of merchandise available to purchase at a gig... CDs, posters, t-shirts even badges with your name are a sure way to be remembered.
Trademark position is also quite important to look into before you hit it big. Picture this: You’re selling out gigs merchandise is flying out the doors, there’s always someone who wants a slice of that pie, so they register your name/brand as a trademark. It’s advisable to register your name and brand as a trademark in your own country first and add to it as you become more successful.
So your homework for this week is:
by Liam Carey @Bandpages