Here’s why picking a unique artist name is important
Musicians want to stand out in everything they do. From their sound, their image, and their name. Everybody’s in such a rush these days, and musicians just want to focus on their sound and nothing else. But they fail to realize that their name, image, and sound all flow together seamlessly. Some people remember images, while some remember names and sound. It’s vital that you stand out in all of these realms, not just one.
A saturated market is a dangerous market… for naming.
A saturated market isn’t a bad thing. But for certain things it can be, especially when it comes to naming yourself. Since we’ve launched Jamvana, we’ve worked with a slew of extraordinarily talented artists. Their sound is solid, and they’re extraordinarily talented. Their name, on the other hand, is not unique or solid. It’s bland, and it’s so similar that we have artists even in our own system that have the same name.
Artist tagging on digital service providers
It’s not uncommon that an artist releases a track that then gets lumped into another artist or band’s catalog on a streaming platform. For example, musician John Smith just released his debut track. But when the track got pushed to Spotify, it got placed under the John Smith band–something totally unrelated to John Smith the artist.
This often isn’t a huge issue, as we just contact our friends at Spotify and tell them that John Smith’s track got placed under the wrong artist profile. They’ll move it within about 5-7 business days. Any streams and follows that you garner while under the incorrect profile will also migrate when Spotify moves the track over to your own profile.
Having a completely unique name will prevent this from happening. Simply adding a period, hyphen, or apostrophe to your name isn’t sufficient. We highly recommend something very arbitrary and unique.
To be different, you must be arbitrary.
Solo musicians often times want to use their own names. That’s not the best choice all of the time, though. For example, if your name is John Smith, you’ll definitely want to reconsider a different name. That name is extremely common, and your fans are likely to get your name confused with someone else.
When you think of Metallica, 80s rock music comes to mind, along with epic pyrotechnics and excruciatingly loud live shows. Metallica’s name stands out and isn’t likely to be confused with any other trademark, regardless of its industry. This is because it’s a unique name that has been burned into our brains since the band’s inception in 1981.
Another example would be Diplo. Thomas Wesley Pentz is his real name, and Diplo has no correlation to the moniker whatsoever.
Lastly, being arbitrary allows for the strongest level of legal protection within a trademark (which protects names; the “source identifier”). As a clear example, the word “apple” has nothing to do with computers, and the name Xerox has nothing to do with paper or printers. It’s unlikely to get these sources confused with something else. This same concept applies to a musician, band, or artist.
Note: If the artist that has a similar name to yours has their name legally registered, you could receive a cease and desist letter or get sued. It’s happened before. Having this happen five years into your career will ruin it. Everything with that name (website, merch, promotional materials, pens, anything) must be trashed, as it infringes the original owner’s mark. This is why it’s imperative that you consult with an attorney and get your mark cleared and registered before using it professionally. It’s better to do this sooner than later. For a basic information on trademarks, check out EDM.com’s article on trademark basics.
Don’t just stand. Stand out.
Having a unique name isn’t guaranteeing that artist merging won’t happen on the digital service providers. It will, however, lessen your chances of it happening and causing a headache.
If you’re unsure of your artist name, Google it. What comes up? Do five other artists with the same name come up? Or does a scientist in Turkey and college professor for the University of Tulsa come up? The latter is better than the former.
Once you’ve done extensive research on Google, head over to the top 5-10 streaming platforms and search the name. What comes up? If an artist or band comes, you may want to reconsider your name.
Once you’ve found an alias that isn’t being used, we recommend consulting with an attorney to legally protect yourself and the mark. This is important if you want a long, successful, and fruitful career.