My band has been around for a few releases, some tours both domestic and overseas and generally has been received favorably. Recently we had a line-up change but we continued on with another album and tour and thought nothing of it. Recently we’ve thought of changing the name, which also means new websites, convincing all the fans on social media to follow us to a new home and all the other related issues.
Granted we probably should’ve done it when the line-up changed but it wasn’t until recently that we started to think the name was an issue. Not because of the association with the previous line-up but more that we’re coming to think that the name is a hindrance because it’s not an English word and it’s become obvious that Americans have a hard time spelling and/or pronouncing it. Other than that, the name is very fitting for our sound and the fact that half the band are foreigners.
As I’ve mentioned, in the past it hasn’t bothered us because we were relatively new and busy and making the rounds. However, lately when dealing with bookers, fans, blogs, journalist, radio DJ’s etc. . . they’re constantly misspelling or mispronouncing the band name which we feel is detrimental. It’s possible people aren’t able to connect and share and talk about us because they have trouble pronouncing or remembering the name.
- Artist Formerly Known As
Dear Artist Formerly Known As,
It appears to be a good time to make a change. As you outline in your letter, you have several good reasons to switch to a new moniker, and few to stay the same. You'll always have a connection to your original name, because your band got together and became successful with it. But if you want to stick in people's minds, the change may be necessary.
As long as your line change was amicable, you don't need to worry about whether the name change will be seen as related to the band's membership. Your main concern will be attaching your new name to your old one in people's mind, to constantly affirm the new name and the old one together, until you're certain that people are able to follow you. Your websites should have re-direct links, and try to get any mention of you in print to include both names, so that your fans can make the connection.
Here's the downside to the change: it would be a shame to give up something unique and meaningful in order to move on to something bland but marketable. Many bands thrive on their niche status. You might be happy to be more obscure if it means that the fans that do find and follow you are that much more intensely engaged, both by your sound and by your self-presentation. People who come from a similar background as you might be thrilled to see you--a representation of creativity and success that they can identify with--emphasizing the worldview you started with.
Change is part of life! As your band reaches a new level of success and distribution, more things than just the band's name will change. Relationships, song inspiration, venues--all of these will be in flux. The question you have to ask yourself is what aspect of your band do you want to emphasize, and what audience do you want to reach?
I suspect that what you have to say as a band, through your music, is the most important part; the name may or may not be an element in that message. If a new name will be just as meaningful but more memorable, then it's time to take the plunge and embrace the new!
Good luck, Artist Formerly Known As!