Depending on where you’re at in your career, changing your artist/band name can either be as easy as renaming a few social profiles or as difficult as destroying every trace of your previous incarnation and humbly starting from scratch. Hopefully you’ll never have to change your name, but here are some reasons you might have to:
You find out another band is using the same name.
Understandably, this used to be a much more common occurrence before the advent of the internet. Somewhat less understandably, it’s still a problem. Swedish metal weirdoes Ghost recently changed their name to Ghost BC as a result of what they described as “legal reasons.” They are the 32nd band on Discogs to use that name, so I’m assuming one of the previous 31 told them to knock it off.
Then there’s the case of bands like Suede and The Charlatans, who had no issues in the UK, but as soon as they came to the States found they didn’t have claim to those names. You might know them as The London Suede and The Charlatans UK. Not quite as catchy.
Do your googling and make sure the name you want hasn’t been used before! You’ll save yourself some major annoyances later.
You realize the name you picked is terrible.
You think Radiohead would have conquered the music world using their original name, On a Friday? Well, maybe. Their music is really good. But, On a Friday is a high-school band name if I’ve ever heard one, and the future-Radiohead’s label saw this and made the band change it. Plenty of bands have had to – or chosen to – do this, and they’re probably glad they did. You think Red Hot Chili Peppers is a mouthful? Try Tony Flow and the Miraculously Majestic Masters of Mayhem.
You have rendered yourself unGoogleable.
Sure, you could name your band Food (I’m sure it’s already happened many, many times), but good luck getting anyone to find you online. Not to mention the struggle that comes with trying to get a decent URL, Facebook address, etc. You might find this is all too much and decide to go with something with a little more SEO power. May I suggest The Food UK?
Your name no longer reflects your music or is holding you back from a wider audience.
Portland band Starf*cker decided to change their name back in 2009, briefly becoming PYRAMID, then Pyramiddd, then they just changed it back. Rapper Killer Mike temporarily become Mike Bigga a few years back, but he changed back, too. Both artists probably felt the connotations that came with their names was hindering them, but when you’re at a level of popularity such as they were, it was too late and it didn’t take.
Which brings us to the real point of this article: how do you get it to take? And how do you do it in a way that your fan base will accept and respect? It can be tough, certainly, but not impossible. Here are some tips:
Tell people why you’re changing your name and take any criticisms in stride.
Fans and friends will want to know why you’re making this change, so tell them. Whether it’s for legal, career, or personal reasons, they’ll understand. They may not love the idea at first, but stay strong and stick with your decision. Your fans will adjust.
Use it as an excuse to have a party or show.
“Food is now The Food UK! Come celebrate our rechristening and pick up a t-shirt with our new name and logo on it!” Boom: you’ve turned a possibly awkward situation into a reason to celebrate, and it’s a great way to spread the word.
Unless you’ve received threatening legal documents, leave your old stuff up for a while.
People will still be trying to find you under your old name, so let those sites/profiles live for a little while. Just make sure the old sites make the name-change clear and have direct links to your new pages. Or, just redirect your old site to your new one and save them a click.
If you want this to go smoothly, you’ll need to make sure you’ve got all your ducks in a row. Slowly transitioning things (specifically online things) over the course of a few weeks will just add to the confusion. Make a plan ahead of time, have all your new branding supplies ready, and try to add the new stuff and delete the old stuff all in one fell swoop.
Have you ever changed your band/artist name? We’d love to know if it helped or hurt, and how you did it. Tell us your stories in the comments section.
This is an excerpt from Ariel Hyatt’s new book Cyber PR® for Musicians: Tools, Tricks, And Tactics For Building Your Social Media House. The book aims to demystify and harness the full potential of social media for musicians. You can find out more about the book here as well as follow Ariel on Twitter at @cyberpr
Top 7 Reasons Artists Strongly Resist Social Media
1. “I don’t want to be pushy and over-hype-y like all those other artists that I hate.”
I know, talking about yourself is icky. But having people respond to you is wonderful. My advice is: when you use social media, take the spotlight off yourself and shine it on others (the people in your community, fans, and friends). This is a theme that will run throughout this book.
Share things. Don’t even think of marketing yourself or your music for a few months until you get the hang of it. After you do, use it to gently lead people to your newsletter sign-up, your website, and to help yourself with Google rankings. Keep this in mind: According to a 2012 study by Socialnomics.net, 78 percent of people trust peer recommendations (i.e. the “Like” button on Facebook) for products and services that they buy. Only 14 percent trust TV, radio, and print advertising. In other words, you need to be an artist that peers are recommending.
2. “Promoting my music on social media won’t put any money in my pocket. I’ve tried it, and it just creates more work for me.”
Social media and ROI (return on investment) are hard to tie together. Social media use most likely won’t directly put money in your pocket in the short term. But, when used in connection with traditional marketing, and as part of a master plan, social media is integral in reinforcing relationships between you and your fans. Down the line, that can lead them to a point of purchase, particularly if you know how to ask. Google rankings and your email newsletter list will be two vital components to putting money in your pocket, and social media can help you strengthen both of them.
3. “Social media and marketing take too much time.
I only want to be ‘an artist’ playing my music.” Being successful does (and will) take hard work and always has. Here are a few personal questions to consider: How much time are you willing to commit to learning new skills and tools? If the answer is, “None. I just want to play,” that’s okay. I have worked with many artists who are pushing and forcing themselves to “succeed” without looking at what success really means to them. My friend, Derek Sivers (the founder of CD Baby), wrote the most powerful blog post I have ever read on the artist dilemma when it comes to success vs. creativity. This just might convince you to think making music for profit may not be for you. In it he says:
“When someone creates something that is really important, powerful, and valuable to them, it’s hard to imagine that it’s not important, powerful, and valuable to others.… But money only comes from doing something valuable to others.… If you stop expecting your art to be valuable to anyone but you, your conflicted mind can finally be at peace. Do it only because you love it, and it honestly doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.… You’ll probably be happier with your art because of this change in mindset. Ironically, others may appreciate it more too, though you honestly won’t care. Stop expecting it to be valuable to others. Accept it as personal and precious to only you. Get your money elsewhere.”
In my philosophy, there’s an in-between value that Derek does not assign, and it’s not so black and white. That value is: How you touch and inspire people along your journey of sharing your art may not have a high financial value at all. It may be deeply satisfying for you to take 10, 50, or 200 friends along your creative journey.
4. “Social media isn’t ‘real’ media. It has no impact on the ‘real’ world.”
Citizen journalists are the new influencers. They include bloggers, podcasters, Internet radio stations, and people with large followings on social media sites. If you doubt their influence, take a good, long look at traditional media these days: approximately once every minute, TV news broadcasts direct you to their Twitter and Facebook pages. Many of them have a permanent graphic on the screen with Facebook and Twitter feeds (think of 24-hour news channels like CNN or MSNBC). The “real” media is constantly telling viewers to go to social media and contribute. And note: There are over 200 million blogs online. I’ll bet my life that one or two of them may just want to write about you.
5. “Social media is just for young people. I’m not in ‘that’ generation.”
Think again: The average age of Twitter users is split pretty evenly over every age demographic. In fact, the fastest growing demographic on Facebook is 55- to 65-year-old women. Why? Because grandma is signing up to look at photos of little Johnny and then realizing that all of her friends and family are actively engaged and … that’s FUN!
6. “Status updates on Facebook and tweets on Twitter are stupid. Who cares about what everyone is doing all the time?”
Many artists are wary of Twitter and Facebook updates because they don’t feel that people want to know their random or personal thoughts. And they don’t want to “waste their time” using them. Also, many artists feel that social networking sites are made for promotional use (only). When we all came to the party with the first ever social network (the now all-but-dead Myspace), that was indeed the case. In fact the goal on Myspace was: hype, hype, hype, promote, and add, add, add as many friends as possible. Rack up the plays by any means necessary, or you wouldn’t get that club booker to pay, give you the gig, or get that record label to sign you! There were very few personal thoughts or “status updates” in the Myspace mix. Twitter and Facebook are community-building and sharing platforms as opposed to promotional tools, so it confuses artists when it comes to what they are supposed to be contributing.
7. “I don’t want my fans to see my personal life.”
The empowering thing about social media is you can show only what you want to show; not everything is so personal. Here are a few ideas to start with: movies you like, books you read, and other artists you love and respect, and why.
by Evan Kepner
In the last lesson we covered a few different strategies for starting to train your ears. This included singing with your instrument, singing over a drone, and singing intervals in all the keys. Now we’re going to take it a few steps further and work to really develop our ears ability to pick out notes and relationships. Remember that these exercises take time – developing your ears is a long process. I would practice the exercises from the first lesson and this lesson over the next several months and you’ll start to see development. It’s not a forced thing, more of a gradual opening of your ears.
By this point it should go without saying that each exercise should be done in every key. Break them into small chucks where you do a few keys each time your practice and eventually cycle through all 12.
We’re going to expand from last week’s “singing a scale” exercise to singing the different modes. Playing along with your instrument, sing each major scale ascending and descending in the starting from each note of the scale Therefore you’ll sing first Do Re Mi Fa Sol La Ti Do, then you’ll sing Re Mi Fa Sol La Ti Do Re, them sing Mi to Mi, Fa to Fa, etc until you are singing in the second octave. If it’s uncomfortable to sing that high take it down below your initial “Do” for the scales that may be out of range.
This is important because it set you up to hear outside of the normal scalar patterns. If your relative pitch is only good for an ascending or descending major scale starting on the root you’ll be pretty limited. You want to make sure your ears are open to the other diatonic combinations. Once you are comfortable singing and playing try to do it without your instrument. The reason for using your bass while you play is to 1) ensure your intonation is correct and 2) train you to hear the notes and relationships as you practice. When you can do it accurately without your instrument it means you’ve really started to internalize the relationships between the notes – this is a exactly where you want to be.
Again with the modal-singing, but this time do it as arpeggios. Therefore you’ll sing the following (ascending then descending):
Do Mi Sol Ti Ti Sol Mi Do
Re Fa La Do Do La Fa Re
Mi Sol Ti Re Re Ti Sol Mi
Continue through all the different starting tones in the major scale. Again, if singing two octaves is too large a range drop the exercises down below your starting tone (but keep the same ascending/descending relationships, don’t switch octaves half way). Start off playing with your instrument and again once you get comfortable try doing it accurately without accompaniment.
This is the time for a little brute force memorization. Do whatever you have to do, but memorize the sounds of the E, A, D and G strings. These are pitches you need to be able to instantly identify when you hear them. Every day make a point when you practice to sing these four notes for 5 minutes and play along. If you have a tuner that can pick up sound without being plugged in test yourself by singing into the tuner every day. Eventually you’ll be able to nail each of these. It will make everything so much easier if you know these four pitches solidly. We’re using them as a reference since they are our open strings.
Once you’re comfortable singing the different modes, singing all the intervals, and singing arpeggios, you are ready to move onto working with chords. We’ll start with major thirds. Play a major third on your bass in a comfortable singing range. Just listen to it. Take note of the two tones you’re playing and reference the “subtleties” you identified from the last ear-training lesson, you should be able to pick out the qualities of each tone in the chord. Once you feel you can hear the separate tones, sing them with the chord from low to high (just a generic “La” for each is fine). For example if I’m playing a G-major third, I would play, listen and then sing the G and the B while the chord is sounding.
This exercise will help you develop your ear for picking out the different notes in a song. The soloist may have a linear line, but there will be lots of other instruments playing and a fair amount of choral arrangement in any song. Being able to pick the notes out in each chord is essential. This will also help you develop your ear for perfect pitch since you are focusing on the subtle differences between each set of notes.
Play different major thirds all around the neck. Move chromatically to start, and then pick starting tones at random. If you have difficulty picking out the individual notes in the chord play each one separately to start and the together. For example if you could not pick out the tones in a G major third, play the G, stop it, then play the B. Sing each note. Now play the G, let it ring, and play the B – again sing each note. Finally play the G and B at the same time and sing each note. With practice this becomes easier.
Repeat exercise 4 with all the other intervals. The more compact intervals (major and minor second) will be the ones which are more difficult. Work with both major and minor intervals all over the neck. You’ll find over time that it will be easier for you to hear the individual tones in each interval, as well as recognize certain things about the interval itself.
Now that you’re comfortable with the different intervals it’s time to expand to full chords. Start off with basic major and minor triads using the same concepts in Exercise 4. Sing each note in the chord while paying special attention to the subtleties of each pitch. This exercise will not do you any good if you just rush through it, so be sure to pay careful attention to each tone as you sing it. If it’s necessary set your metronome to 40 bpm and sing for two clicks on each note. That way you’re really letting your ear soak in the tone and how it stands out in each chord.
Once you feel good about the major and minor triads start trying other three-note chord combinations, such as a major or minor seventh (without the 5th). If you can easily identify a chord type, such as major 7th, minor 7th or dominant 7th you’ll have a great head start in any music scene you play. These are the foundational chords to a lot of modern music.
If you have a friend that plays guitar or bass test each other for different strings of notes. Start small, have them play one note for reference that you know (such as E A D or G since you already memorized those tones right?), and then play another note afterwards. You can get 3 trials to hear the note and then you have to give the answer as to what it is. Testing yourself will really help your ear develop. Once you are consistent naming one note with a reference pitch have your friend play two notes in sequence after the reference. Then three, four, five etc. The longer the sequence of notes you’re able to hear, remember and name correctly the better – soon you’ll be able to hear an entire line!
Once again I need to reiterate that ear-training is a journey and a constant pursuit. You can never have ears that are too good. It’s a good idea to think of reference songs to help you remember pitches and intervals. For example “Twinkle Twinkle little Star” is a major fifth followed by a major second. I agree it’s not the sexiest song out there to remember this by, but it’s so ingrained in my memory I know I’ll never sing it out of tune. Whenever you listen to the radio try to pick out the chord progressions – is that a ii-V-I, a I-vi-ii-V or a IV-iii-ii-I ? The most important thing is to keep up with it, a little bit everyday is way better than a lot every few weeks – your ear will mature with time.
Article courtesy of our friends at notreble.com, the site for bass players.