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If you want a simple, detailed guide on how to come up with a band name or artist name, you’ve come to the right place.
In the past, coming up with a band name used to be easy.
You could go to your friend’s house, rehearse in the kitchen and suddenly come up with a unique band name.
This is how The Dire Straits came up with their band name back in 1977.
However, today things are different.
When you try to figure out how to name your band, take the Internet into account.
People use search engines, social media platforms, and music streaming sites to find you.
Other than that, coming up with the right band name can be a challenging task:
- Should you go for a catchy band name?
- Should you use a stage name that looks great on a concert flyer?
- Should you use a name that has an available URL?
After I’ve searched many articles and posts on the subject, I’ve concluded that there are no hard and fast rules for picking a band name or an artist name.
To help you, I’ve outlined some general principles and methods for choosing a band name or artist name.
Here’s what I’m going to cover in this guide:
- What Is a Stage Name/Band Name/Artist Name?
- How Important Is a Band Name/Artist Name?
- Principles and Tips for Finding Smart Band Names
- Be Yourself First
- Find a Band Name/Artist Name That Is Related to Your Music
- Use a Band Name Generator/Stage Name Generator
- Use a General Name Generator
- Use a Baby Name Generator
- Make Sure Your Band Name Is Legal
- Make Sure It’s Not Negative or Offensive
- Make Sure Your Band Name Is Easy to Spell
- Make Sure Your Band Name Is Easy to Pronounce
- Make Sure Your Band Name Is Catchy & Memorable
- Use Alliteration
- Make Sure It’s Short
- Make Sure Your Band Name Looks Well on Music Marketing Tools
- Don’t Try Too Hard to Be Unique, Cool or Mysterious
- Think of Your Target Audience
- Think of an International Audience
- Ask Your Audience for Band Name Suggestions
- Don’t Think About What Your Audience Likes or Doesn’t Like
- Check Your Name on Social Media Platforms
- Be Patient: Finding the Right Stage Name Takes Time
- Consider Using Your Real Name
- Get Feedback
- Once You Find a Band Name You Like, Stick to It
- Don’t Be Afraid to Change Your Band Name
- Advanced Band Naming Techniques
- 1. Find a Band Name/Artist Name That Is Related to Your Story
- 2. Use Word Association to Brainstorm Band Names
- 3. Use the Name-Meshing Method
- 4. Make an Acronym out of the Band Members’ Names
- 5. Create a Unique Acronym
- 6. Create a Unique Backronym
- 7. Use the Portmanteau Method
- 8. Stick Two Different Words Together (Without Blending Them)
- 9. Mix and Match: Put Different Words Together to Create a Unique Meaning
- 10. Mix and Match Names Together to Come up with a Unique Band Name
- 11. Use an Oxymoron
- 12. Use the Deliberate Misspelling Technique
- 13. Play with a Word’s Letters
- 14. Use the Ruin a Band Name/Artist Name Technique
- 15. Look at Medieval English Ballads
- 16. Use a Neologism
- 17. Use a Book, Magazine, Dictionary, or Thesaurus
- 18. Use an Animal Name
- 19. Use an Object
- 20. Use a Song Title
- 21. Find a Band Name in Places
- 22. Find Band Name in Nature
- 23. Find a Band Name in an Event
- 24. How About Using a Concept as Your Artist Name?
- 25. Use Rhymes
- 26. Use a Number
Let’s get started.
What Is a Stage Name/Band Name/Artist Name?
Well, when we speak of a “band name” or an “artist name” we are referring to a stage name.
A stage name is a name that an artist, musician, band, or any other entertainer uses instead of his real name.
(this is often called pseudonym)
Let’s look at some examples:
- The American singer, songwriter, record producer Peter Gene Hernandez uses Bruno Mars as his stage name.
- The Canadian singer, songwriter, and record producer Abel Makkonen Tesfaye uses The Weeknd as his stage name.
- The New Zealand singer and songwriter Ella Marija Lani Yelich-O’Connor, uses Lorde as her stage name.
- The Puerto Rican singer-songwriter and rapper, Benito Antonio Martínez Ocasio uses the stage name Bad Bunny.
Are you surprised?
I was surprised when I found out that some of my favorite bands and artists weren’t using their real names.
This leads us to the reasons for choosing a stage name.
How Important Is a Band Name/Artist Name?
There are several reasons for choosing a stage name.
Let’s break them down:
People Judge You Based on Your Name
Like it or, not people will judge you based on your name.
It’s human nature.
If you’re not convinced, check out this article.
Why does this happen?
Judging quickly helps people make important decisions with the limited information they have.
When people combine their limited information with prejudices or generalizations, this can cause a decision that isn’t always in your favor.
We may refer to this as the psychology of a band name.
So, when you’re thinking of how to create a band name, take into account how others will perceive your name.
Your Band Name Is the First Impression of You
The name of your band or your name as an artist is often the first thing anyone will come in contact with.
Names are more than just words.
They instantly communicate impressions of you.
For example, if your parents called you Justin Bieber, people will immediately associate you with Justin Bieber (even if they don’t intend to).
First impressions are long-lasting.
You never get a second chance to make a first impression.
Do you want your first impression with your audience to be something curious and intriguing?
This brings me to the next point.
You Want to Distinguish Yourself from Others
Look at the following photo:
All these flowers are beautiful.
But which one catches most of your attention?
I can almost hear you thinking “the red one.”
So what’s my point?
There are many gifted musicians in the world.
But which one catches people’s attention?
You guessed it:
The ones that stand out from the crowd.
Standing out from the crowd is crucial for long-term success.
That’s why you need to find a band name that sets you apart from others.
Your Stage Name Is Your Brand
Most musicians I know prefer to make music rather than to deal with the business side of their music.
And I can include myself in that bunch.
That is understandable.
But the truth is, we recognize successful bands and artists not just by their musicianship but by their own unique branding.
Many things that make up your musical brand.
Here are some examples:
- Your clothes
- Your hair
- Your music genre
- The instruments you use
Your artist name or band name is an important part of your brand.
Good branding makes a memorable impression on your fans.
Not only that, but it allows them to know who you are and what you represent.
It is a way of distinguishing yourself from other musicians out there.
Your brand clarifies what you offer, and why you are special.
Most of the people today use streaming audio services to listen to music.
Many others watch YouTube music videos.
People look for music online.
What does all this mean to you?
When you’re trying to think of how to come up with a good band name, take search engines and music streaming services into account.
This is what the band Chvrches did.
They looked for cool band names that weren’t taken.
And they wanted to show up first on internet searches.
So they came up with “Chvrches.”
Your Name Is Already Being Used by Someone:
My name is Eldad Cohen.
(Nice to meet you 🙂
Look at what happens when I search for my name on Spotify:
Not only do I see four other musicians with my name, but I show up last.
Potential fans are going to have a hard time finding me, and my artist name isn’t unique.
Here’s another problem.
Until a while back, there was no famous musician with the name “Eldad Cohen.”
But all of this changed when a talented musician with my name took part in a TV musical competition series and became famous.
And guess what happened when he became famous?
People started tagging him to my Facebook account:
And what about YouTube?
Well, in the past I would show up first, but this is no longer the case:
One reason to use a stage name is not to get confused with other artists.
Choosing a unique band or artist name can help you stand out from the crowd.
Separating Personal Life and Stage Life
Picking a stage name allows you to separate your personal life and stage life.
Separating your personal life and stage life may be safer.
If you become famous, it will make it harder for fans to find your location.
Besides that, it will allow your family members to escape the negative aspects of being a celebrity.
Psychologically this separation will allow you to identify with your music career when and if you want to.
In social settings, you’ll be able to be “normal” when you want to.
It will allow you to leave the music industry behind at any point.
With these things in mind, it’s time to talk about band naming principles.
Principles and Tips for Finding Smart Band Names
Be Yourself First
Have you ever noticed how most of the social media profiles show photos of people having fun and smiling most of the time?
The truth is:
Most of us try to fit in and be liked.
We want others to accept us.
Sometimes the image we present on social media isn’t really us.
It’s an image of who we think we should be.
It doesn’t reflect who we really are.
How does that relate to coming up with a good band name or artist name?
Well, it is part of the psychology of a band name.
Let me explain:
Your audience connects with whom you really are, not with a fake version of you.
Now, you’ve probably heard people tell you to “be yourself.”
But what exactly does that mean?
Well, let me start by explaining what it isn’t:
Being yourself isn’t about comparing yourself to other musicians (although, to be honest, that’s not a simple thing to do).
Being yourself isn’t about attempting to be different from others.
When you’re trying to be someone you are not, you are telling yourself that who you really are, isn’t good enough.
Being yourself is about following your unique path.
When you deliberately try to be different, you disconnect from what you really want.
So when you’re looking for band name ideas or artist name ideas, remember that you are good enough as you are.
Find a Band Name/Artist Name That Is Related to Your Music
Which music genre does your music identify with the most?
Maybe it is related to only one music genre.
Maybe it is related to more than one music genre.
Either way, taking music genres into account is important when you try to come up with a good band name.
If you look at the different music genres, you’ll see a pattern of common words, symbols, images, and characters.
Look at the following band names/artist names.
Do they have something in common?
- Polo G
- Lil Baby
- Lil Uzi Vert
- Roddy Ricch
- Pop Smoke
- Travis Scott
- Lil Tjay the King
- J Cole
- Dirty Honey
- Bad Wolves
- The HU
- The Faim
- Revival Black
- BONES UK
- BRNK LOVE
- Fever 333
- Des Rocs
- Ariana Grande
- Billie Eilish
- Harry Styles
- Camila Cabello
- Shawn Mendes
- Taylor Swift
- Dua Lipa
- Selena Gomez
- Lady Gaga
- The Weekend
- Ed Sheeran
- Five Finger Death Punch
- The Black Dahlia Murder
- Demons and Wizards
- King Diamond
- Psychotic Waltz
- Suicide Silence
- Bon Iver
- Fleet Foxes
- Of Monsters and Men
- Iron & Wine
- The Head and the Heart
- The Lumineers
- Sufjan Stevens
- Edward Sharp and the Magnetic Zeros
- Vance Joy
Now you may be thinking:
“Why would I want a band name that looks and sounds like the rest of the bands and artists in my genre?”
I get it.
You want to be unique.
Although this is not a hard rule, I think it would be better if you picked a name that is somewhat related to the music you make.
If your name sounds similar to other band names in the genre, potential fans will probably be more comfortable with it.
They will be less likely to confuse you for something you aren’t.
Think about it.
Use a Band Name Generator/Stage Name Generator
When I researched the material for this post, I came across some musicians that recommended not to use a band name generator or band name checker.
I think whatever works, works.
Did you know that Donald McKinley Glover Jr used a name generator to come up with his stage name? –> Childish Gambino
Did you know that Austin Richard Post used a rap name generator to come up with the name? –> Post Malone
If it worked for them, it could work for you.
Here’s a useful list of band name generators that you can use to find the perfect name for your band.
Band Name Generators
Band Name Maker – a band name generator of many genres. This powerful band name generator allows you to type in your word or phrase and its engine will randomly use that in the stage name generation process.
Business Name Generator – don’t get fooled by its name. Not only is this a band generator, but it has a post with tips on the best ways to get band name inspiration.
Band Name Generator by 1728.org – This band name generator can create over ten million band names.
Band Name Generator by WordLab – This name generator aims to help you find a band name that isn’t already taken.
Name Generator Fun – This friendly band name generator gives you some excellent tips for finding a great band name.
Bandnamegenerator.org – This band name generator helps you generate random cool band names according to four major styles: Classic Band Names, Modern Band Names, Indie Band Names, and Hipster Band Names.
Fantasy Name Generator – This is a versatile name generator that can help you find names in various categories. If you’re looking for a band name that is related to fantasy this is your best choice.
Metal Band Name Generator.com – If you’re looking for a name for a metal band, this is the name generator to head to.
Random Bad Bluegrass Band Name Generator – This cool band name generator tries to help Bluegrass bands that don’t have a cool band name.
AI-Powered Band Name Generator – This band name generator uses Artificial Intelligence to find you a band name. It used 90,000 real band names to come up with the algorithm that’ll help you find a smart band name.
Use a General Name Generator
The list above refers to name generators that aim to help musicians find band names or artist names.
However, nothing should keep you from using a general, all-purpose name generator.
Here are some suggestions.
Random Name Generators
Name Generator – This is a name generator by Masterpiece Generator that will help you find a name for almost anything: characters, babies, authors, or bands. Search at random or filter and sort by gender, popularity, birth year, country, and a lot more.
Character Name Generator – Another generator by Masterpiece Generator that specializes in epic character names.
Business Name Generator – This is a name generator by Shopify aimed at finding names for businesses.
Random Name Generator – This is a very cool name generator because it has many name categories and can help you find a creative band name.
Fantasy Name Generator – As its name suggests, this name generator specializes in fantasy names. Pretty cool.
Use a Baby Name Generator
Baby name generators are a great tool to use if you’re looking for an artist name or a band name that is made up of given names (and not just any word).
Here are some useful baby name generators for you to check out:
- Baby Name Generator by Pampers
- Baby Name Generator by Masterpiece
- Baby Name Generator by Bounty
Make Sure Your Band Name Is Legal
Before picking the perfect band name, you must make sure you aren’t treading on someone else’s rights to the name.
Here’s a real-life example:
Did you know that the Band OneRepublic was originally called “Republic”?
But they changed their band name after Columbia Records told them that using “Republic” might result in legal action from other bands that had a similar name.
To stay out of trouble and ensure that you won’t violate someone else’s trademark rights, do some homework.
If you live in the United States, you can do that here:
If you live in Canada, you can check your band name availability here:
If you live anywhere in the European Union, check this website:
If you live anywhere else, look for a local online trademark database.
Make Sure It’s Not Negative or Offensive
I know, I know.
There are artists and bands out there that made it by being offensive.
Do you want some examples?
Read this article which lists the 13 Most Offensive Band Names.
Unless it really defines who you are, I don’t think you have to use an offensive name.
A band name with a negative connotation may offend your potential fans.
Now you may be thinking:
“Well, that’s ok, they aren’t supposed to be my hardcore fans, anyway.”
However, I think that driving away potential fans, music blogs, radio and television stations isn’t the best music marketing strategy.
Make Sure Your Band Name Is Easy to Spell
You just finished performing.
One person approaches you after the gig and tells you he loved your show.
He asks you, “What’s your band name?”
You reply it’s called “Book.”
You forget to mention that you spell your band name with a “c” — Boocks.
Your fan returns to his house after the show and excitedly Googles you.
He wants to purchase your music.
He wants to go to your next show.
Guess what happens?
He can’t find you, and it disappoints him.
You just lost a potential fan.
It’s perfectly ok to look for a unique artist name or band name.
But not at the expense of losing potential fans.
When you’re trying to find the right artist name or band name consider spelling.
Make Sure Your Band Name Is Easy to Pronounce
The scenario I described above is just half the story.
You just finished playing a gig.
Someone approaches you and tells you she really enjoyed your gig.
She asks you, “What are you guys called?”
You reply: “Helikaniskrepkas.”
She says: “What?? Say again?”
Then she asks again.
And you tell her again: “Helikaniskrepkas.”
This time she smiles politely and leaves.
Are you starting to notice a theme here?
If your band name is too difficult for most people to pronounce, it’s going to be hard for them to connect with you.
Think about it:
How will they recommend your music if they can’t even say your artist name?
And think of all the time you will spend correcting the media and potential fans that’ll get your band name wrong.
To avoid this, I recommend that during your band naming process, say your name out loud.
Listen to how it sounds.
Does it come out easily?
Or does it sound jumbled or clashing?
Does it have a nice ring to it when I say it out loud?
Think of this:
Your fans are waiting for you to come out and play.
For some reason, you are late, and you don’t show up on time.
So, they start shouting your band name.
Can they easily shout your band name?
Make Sure Your Band Name Is Catchy & Memorable
Let’s look at some very popular band and artist names:
- Tupac Shakur
- Elvis Presley
- Stevie Wonder
- Kanye West
- Frank Sinatra
- Kendrick Lamar
- Michael Jackson
- Lil Wayne
- Britney Spears
They all have one thing in common.
They are catchy.
Some are unusual or quirky.
They are easy to remember.
Much of your publicity as a band or as an artist will be word of mouth.
If your name is catchy and memorable, potential fans will easily remember it when they look it up.
One way to make sure your band name is catchy and memorable is to use Alliteration.
Alteration is a term in literature, and it means repeating similar or identical sounds at the beginning of a word.
Here are some examples:
This can create a cool rhythm and mood to your band name.
Make Sure It’s Short
How many successful brands have a long name?
Not too many.
Here are examples of very successful brands:
How many successful artists or bands have a long band/artist name?
Not too many.
Why is that?
Long names are hard to pronounce and hard to remember.
Short artist names fit in URLs, tweets and most anywhere you need to use them.
Here are examples of successful band names and artist names.
Notice how short and simple they are:
The reason many artists shorten their birth name is short and simple works:
- Justin Drew Bieber –> Justin Bieber
- Ariana Grande-Butera –> Ariana Grande
- Christina María Aguilera –> Christina Aguilera
- Adele Laurie Blue Adkins –> Adele
- Beyoncé Giselle Knowles –> Carter – Beyonce
- Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou –> George Michael
So when you’re looking for ideas for a band name, keep it simple.
A general rule of thumb is to pick a short stage name that is no longer than 3 words.
Here are some more examples:
One Word Band Names/Artist Names:
Two-Word Band Names/Artist Names:
Three-Word Band Names/Artist Names:
Most of the successful artists and bands out there have names that have 1-3 words.
But like I mentioned earlier:
There is no magic formula for finding the perfect band name.
Make Sure Your Band Name Looks Well on Music Marketing Tools
Posters, flyers, stickers, T-shirts, hats and bags.
These are important music marketing tools that help promote your band name, make extra money and create a special connection with your fans.
When trying to come up with a band name, it’s important to think about how it will appear on this music merchandise.
For example, a very long band name may be hard to fit in a poster or flyer.
And a long band name will be less visible from far away.
Don’t Try Too Hard to Be Unique, Cool or Mysterious
We all want to feel special so we can have our own unique identity.
Some of us have been told: “Don’t follow the sheep”.
We’ve been told to resist conformity.
I believe that there’s nothing wrong with being different, but if you have to change the way you are just to stand out from the crowd, people are going to notice it’s not genuine.
Being unique with your band name isn’t something you should force yourself into.
Think of Your Target Audience
Ever wonder why many bands changed their band name?
The band “Feedback” changed its band name to “The Hype”, and finally to the famous “U2.”
The band “Pectoralz” changed its band name to “Starfish” and finally changed their name to “Coldplay.”
The “Blackjacks” changed their band name to “the Quarrymen”, then to “Beatles”, then to Silver Beetles, and finally to “The Beatles.”
Hmmm, why did they change their band names?
I’m guessing that they were trying to target their audience.
A target audience is a specific group of people you want to reach out to because they’re the ones who are most likely to take an interest in your music.
Not only that, but they are united by common characteristics, like demographics and behaviors.
When Metallica‘s drummer, Lars Ulrich, was asked how he came up with the name “Metallica” he said that he heard it from his friend, Ron Quintana.
Ron was looking for names for his fanzine and was considering two band names: Metal Mania and Metallica.
Since Ultrich wanted “Metallica” for his band, he told Quintana to use MetalMania.
When Ron was asked if it annoyed him that Lars stole “Metallica” from him, he replied:
“I was happy to give the name to him.
I was a metal fanatic, so I chose Metal Mania, actually before he used the name Metallica because I actually did not want to use it.
There was already the (name) Encyclopedia Metallica, which is a very good name, but for me Metal Mania was better and when he told me he was going to call his band “Metallica” I told him to make good use of it.”
Lars and Ron were targeting their specific fans.
When you’re trying to figure out what makes a good band name, think of your crowd.
Think of their activities, interests, and opinions.
Think of an International Audience
It may well be that you’re focused on the fans that live near you.
This is natural because you’re touring at the local venues and maybe expand to cities close to your city.
However, since music is online, it is accessible from anywhere.
You may gain popularity in cities and countries that are far away from you.
What does this mean when you’re looking for your band name?
It means that you should do your homework and make sure that your band name doesn’t have a negative meaning in other languages.
You do this check-up by using Google Translate.
Another thing worth checking is the name’s pronounceability.
Is it easy to pronounce in most languages?
Ask Your Audience for Band Name Suggestions
If you already have a band name and you’re thinking of finding a new one, you can ask your audience.
You just finished performing and at the end of the show, you ask your audience to raise their hands if they think you should keep your existing band name.
If you don’t see a lot of hands, maybe you could ask them to suggest cool band names.
If you have an email list of all your fans’ emails, you can send them an email and ask them to suggest a new band name.
Don’t Think About What Your Audience Likes or Doesn’t Like
I know, I know.
This is exactly the opposite advice of what I said above.
Let me explain.
Sometimes you shouldn’t listen to the opinion of other people.
Most of your fans or potential fans don’t know you like you know yourself.
They can’t envision your art and music like you do.
That’s why you should trust your intuition.
You should trust who you are and why you’re doing the things the way you’re doing them.
Many successful musicians were ridiculed at the beginning of their careers when they followed their dreams.
Some people will love the band name you chose.
Some people won’t.
What really matters is that you like it.
Check Your Name on Social Media Platforms
Before social media existed, you could have taken your band name inspiration from just about anywhere.
But nowadays, people listen to music on the internet and look for music on the internet.
If you have a band name that’s hard to find on social media, fans, music promoters, record labels and journalists are going to have a hard time finding you.
Your stage name needs to show up on search engines and online music streaming sites.
(And I’m not talking about showing up on page 55 on Google but the first three pages).
So what should you keep in mind when trying to come up with a searchable band name?
1) Google – Make sure it’s a band name that will appear on the first or second page of Google. People are going to have a hard time finding you if it doesn’t. If they can’t find you, they might forget you.
2) Social Media – Make sure your name is available on social media and that there isn’t another musician using it.
Here are the top 15 most popular social networks to consider:
3) Online Music Streaming Services – Make sure your potential band name is available on music streaming services. Here are the leading music streaming services you should check:
4) Uniqueness – If possible, pick a band name that will be unique enough so that only you appear on each social media network or music streaming service.
Be Patient: Finding the Right Stage Name Takes Time
You just texted someone, and you’re waiting for her response.
One hour passes by and there’s no response.
Three hours pass by, and there’s still no response.
We all know the feeling.
We want things without waiting.
We want them NOW.
We expect immediate results after we work.
Finding the right name for your band or yourself can be challenging and frustrating.
But eventually you will know when you hit that perfect band name that will feel and sound right.
So don’t take the first available band name you come across.
Do some research.
Do your homework.
Have patience. Some things are challenging before they become easy.
Consider Using Your Real Name
Yes, the one your parents gave you.
Well… not exactly.
Your birth name still has to be marketable and brandable.
This is the reason many artists shorten their artist names:
Ariana Grande-Butera —> Ariana Grande
Bruce Frederick Joseph Springsteen –> Bruce Springsteen
Billie Eilish Pirate Baird O’Connell —> Billie Eilish
Kimbra Lee Johnson —> Kimbra
Kanye Omari West —> Kanye West
Taylor Alison Swift —> Taylor Swift
If you like your given name and it is:
- Easy to Pronounce
- Available on social media
You should consider using it.
Many artists use their real name, and it doesn’t prevent them from succeeding.
Your band name/artist name is important, but so is your music.
Once you come up with a few good ideas for a band name or artist name, it’s a good idea to ask a few people you trust for their opinion.
Let’s face it:
Maybe you think it’s your potential band name is perfect, but maybe you’re missing something.
That’s why it’s a good idea to get a second opinion.
You can test your stage name with friends or family and check their initial reactions.
Do they look confused when you tell them about your band name for the first time?
Do they look excited?
If you say a name and they immediately look confused or barrage you with questions, rethink it.
Once You Find a Band Name You Like, Stick to It
If you focus too much on marketing and branding, it will affect your music.
Your music is the most important thing, and it should define you the most.
Don’t Be Afraid to Change Your Band Name
You know the feeling, sometimes you are afraid of change because you don’t have the certainty of knowing what’s going to happen.
But here’s the thing:
Staying in the same place may often be riskier.
You risk being left behind and not developing and succeeding.
Make no mistake:
Changing your band name or even considering using a stage name instead of your real name can be unsettling.
But the risk is often worth it.
Just look at these great examples of bands that dared to change their names:
- Naked Toddler –> Creed
- The Golliwogs –> Creedence Clearwater Revival
- The Polka Tulk Blues Band –> Black Sabbath
- Tony Flow and the Miraculously Majestic Masters of Mayhem –> Red Hot Chili Peppers
- The Salty Peppers –> Earth Wind and Fire
- Screaming Abdabs –> Pink Floyd
- Tom and Jerry –> Simon and Garfunkel
- Mookie Blaylock –> Pearl Jam
- On a Friday –> Radiohead
- Smile –> Queen
- Atomic Mass –> Def Leppard
Advanced Band Naming Techniques
This section dives further into band naming techniques.
As I mentioned before, there is no right or wrong way to create a band name.
1. Find a Band Name/Artist Name That Is Related to Your Story
Many songs tell stories.
Stories can create magic and a sense of wonder at the world.
But that’s not all.
When you tell your audience your story, they realize that they share things with you.
This creates a connection between you and your audience.
With this special connection, your audience is eager to find more about you.
And they get curious about your music.
The band name you choose can reflect a story.
When you have a story behind your band name, you’ll be able to answer questions like:
“Why are you called_____”? at the end of a show or a radio interview.
“Does your band name have a meaning?”
A band name with a story behind it can deepen the connection between you and your fans.
Here’s a great example:
The American rock band, Lynyrd Skynyrd, had many band names before they came up with “Lynyrd Skynyrd.”
So how did they come up with “Lynyrd Skynyrd”?
Well, they wanted to mock their PE teacher, Leonard Skinner.
Skinner was known as a teacher that strictly enforced the no-long-hair for boys policy of their high school.
If you think about it, this is a great story to share on your bio, during a show, a radio interview, and a TV interview.
2. Use Word Association to Brainstorm Band Names
Brainstorming is a great way to get your creative juices flowing.
When you brainstorm, you try to come up with as many ideas as possible in a short period.
There are several ways to brainstorm.
One of my favorite ways is the association method.
Here’s how it’s done:
Take a piece of paper and write as many words associated with your band or yourself.
You want to have 50 or even 100 potential names.
Get the names out of your head.
When you brainstorm, you can think about the names of bands and artists that you like.
Don’t criticize. Don’t judge.
Whatever comes to mind is fine.
These can then be narrowed to just a few which you or your band think are worth testing out.
You can also combine the names that come up.
Which brings me to the name-meshing method.
3. Use the Name-Meshing Method
One of the cool things you could do if you’re trying to come up with an original name for your band is to mesh the names of your band members.
Name-meshing or name-blending means to take two names and combine them into one name.
Bill Clinton + Hillary Clinton –> Biliary
Brad Pitt + Angelina Jolie –> Brangelina
Tom Cruise + Katie Holmes –> TomKat
Here are two cool name combiners that can help you with name-meshing:
4. Make an Acronym out of the Band Members’ Names
If you’re in a band, you can come up with a name band by creating an acronym from the band members’ names.
Did you know that the ABBA‘s band name is made up of the first letters of their first names?
The British-American rock band Fleetwood Mac‘s band name is a combination of the last names of the original drummer and bassist:
And how about the legendary Australian Rock Band, AC/DC?
AC/DC is a term in electricity and it means:
Alternating Current/Direct Current.
The folk-rock supergroup, CSNY, has a band name that’s made up from the members’ last names:
Crosby – David Crosby
Stills – Stephen Stills
Nash – Graham Nash
Young – Neil Young
5. Create a Unique Acronym
An acronym is a set of letters created using the first letter of each word.
For example, the American rock band, R.E.M.’s name has a meaning:
Rapid Eye Movement.
It is a stage in sleep that is characterized by random rapid eye movement.
Another great example is the R&B vocal trio, SWV, which stands for Sisters With Voices.
6. Create a Unique Backronym
Ever heard of N.E.R.D?
It stands for:
No-one Ever Really Dies.
It’s a great example of a backronym.
A backronym is an acronym that is created before the meaning of the letters is determined.
For example, you could create an acronym from the word “band” and later try to figure out the meaning of each letter.
Bands Are Not Dinosaurs
7. Use the Portmanteau Method
But what is portmanteau, you may ask?
Well, portmanteau (a word in French that means “coat rack”) is the act of blending two words into one word.
- Smoke + Fog — > Smog
- Miserable + Flimsy –> Mimsy
- Banjo + Guitar –> Banjitar
- Banjo + Mandolin –> Banjolin
As you can see, not only the words were combined but their sounds and meanings.
Here are some cool portmanteau generators you can use to come up with cool band names:
8. Stick Two Different Words Together (Without Blending Them)
Many band names are made up of two different words that were stuck together to form one word.
These words don’t have to be related to each other.
Here are some examples:
- Sound + Garden —> Soundgarden
- Cold + Play —> Coldplay
- Audio + Slave —> Audioslave
- Radio + Head —> Radiohead
- Slip + Knot —> Slipknot
- Motor + Head —> Motorhead
What’s cool about this band naming technique is that there are endless opportunities to come up with cool band names.
Here are some cool random word generators you can use:
- Random Word Generator
- Michael Fogleman, Random Two Word Phrases
- Text Fixer Random Word Generator
- Naque’s Word Mixer
9. Mix and Match: Put Different Words Together to Create a Unique Meaning
When you use two words together to create a new meaning, you form a compound.
You can take this English grammar concept to come up with great band names.
Here are some great examples:
- No Doubt
- Grateful Dead
- Kings of Leon
- Bone Thugs
- Alice in Chains
- Five Finger Death Punch
- Public Enemy
- Three Days Grace
- Arctic Monkeys
- Soul Asylum
- London Grammar
These compound word lists can help you mix and match words to create band names:
10. Mix and Match Names Together to Come up with a Unique Band Name
This technique is like the Mix & Match Words technique with only one difference:
Instead of mixing different words, you’ll mix names.
Pick two different names and put them together.
The names don’t have to be related to each other.
For example, check out these two band names:
Did you know that Marilyn Manson is a combination of Charles Manson and Marilyn Manson?
And Pink Floyd is made of a combination of two American bluesmen: Pink Anderson and Floyd Council.
11. Use an Oxymoron
When you take two words with opposite meanings and put them together, you create an oxymoron.
Oxymorons can be great band names because they draw attention and even create a bit of drama.
- Organized Mess
- Clearly Confused
- Silent Scream
- Sweet Sorrow
- Honest Thief
Here are some examples of Oxymoron Band Names:
Here are two oxymoron lists that can help you come up with an oxymoron band name:
12. Use the Deliberate Misspelling Technique
Believe it or not, sometimes typos can draw fans to you.
If you’re a perfectionist, you may cringe with pain while reading this.
But if you aren’t and you don’t mind minor imperfections, you can come up with an awesome stage name by using typos.
If you think of it, when you read a tipppo it makes you pause for a second and think….hmmmm…what’s going on?
This can get some people hooked.
Here are some real-life examples:
- The Weeknd – An intentional misspelling of the word “Weekend”
- Hurriganes – An intentional misspelling of the word “hurricanes.”
- Korn – An intentional misspelling of the word “Corn.”
- Phish – An intentional misspelling of the word “fish.”
- Puddle of Mudd – An intentional misspelling of the “Puddle of Mud.”
- The Monkees – An intentional misspelling of “Monkeys.”
There are tools you can use to generate typos. Check these two typo generators out:
The downside of deliberately misspelling your band name is that you’ll make it harder for your potential fans to find you online.
They will naturally google the original word and not the misspelled one.
13. Play with a Word’s Letters
How about taking a word and playing with its letters?
You could come up with cool and creative band names.
For example, I can take the word “table”, mix the letters up and create cool names:
You can use a random word generator or a word unscrambler like these:
Insert a word, and the word generator will mix the letters up.
14. Use the Ruin a Band Name/Artist Name Technique
The Australian singer-songwriter Nicholas James Murphy used to listen to a lot of jazz when he was younger.
They sound kind of similar, right?
Check out what he replied when he was asked why he chose this stage name:
“My real name is Nick Murphy, and there is another artist with that name in Australia; he [already] has had a whole bunch of albums out.
I started out playing under my own name, but people would come to my gig and be like, “Hey, who the hell is this?”
I listened to a lot of jazz, and I was a big fan of Chet Baker and the way he sang, when he moved into mainstream singing. He had this really fragile vocal style—this really, broken, close-up and intimate style.
The name is kind of just an ode to Chet Baker and the mood of music he used to play—something I would like to at least attempt to play homage to in my own music.
What does this all come down to?
Well, you can pick one of your favorite band names or artist name, change it a bit and come up with a new band name.
However, when using this technique, keep in mind, there’s a good chance that the person saying or thinking about your band name may be reminded of the original artists that inspired you.
Your band name will forever be associated with the original band name.
Ever heard of Pink Freud?
It’s a Polish jazz quartet that chose a band name that references the illustrious Pink Floyd.
15. Look at Medieval English Ballads
I bet this method caught you by surprise.
Yes, you read that right, English Ballads.
Take a look at these cool English Ballads:
Just by looking at it, I can come up with these cool band names:
- Colors the Ladies Should Wear
- Nelly Bly
- Bring de Broom Along
Here are two websites to inspire you on your quest for the ultimate band name:
16. Use a Neologism
I know, I know.
All these unfamiliar words you haven’t heard of before….
But don’t worry.
Neologism refers to the act of making up new words from scratch.
You are an artist, right?
So why not invent an original band name?
Inventing new words can be a fun way to come up with great stage names.
And the best part?
When you use completely made-up words, you are creating a sense of uniqueness and originality.
When you come up with your original stage name, there’s a higher chance that it’ll be easier to find you on social media.
17. Use a Book, Magazine, Dictionary, or Thesaurus
What’s common between a book, a magazine, a dictionary, and a thesaurus?
If you think about it, they are large databases of words.
And they happened to be great resources for band name ideas.
In fact, some bands generated their names by using these great tools:
“Goo Goo Dolls” spotted their band name on a True Detective (an American crime magazine) advertisement.
The band name “Depeche Mode” was taken from a French fashion magazine called Dépêche mode (which means hurried fashion).
The American rock band, “The Doors” generated their band name from a book called The Doors of Perception by Aldous Huxley.
Michael Leigh’s book The Velvet Underground was the inspiration for the band name “The Velvet Underground.”
Jerry Garcia came up with the name “Grateful Dead” while paging through a folklore dictionary.
With that in mind, here’s what to do if you’d like to use these great resources to pick a band name:
Flip through a thesaurus, dictionary book, or magazine for a few minutes.
If you come across a word that draws your attention, write it down.
Eventually, you should have a list of potential band names.
If you want to, you can create a spreadsheet of the names you came up with.
18. Use an Animal Name
Some articles I read when I researched coming up with a good band name advised not to use an animal name as a band name.
I think that if it has worked before, there’s no reason it shouldn’t work now.
Want some examples?
Here are bands with animal names:
- The Beatles
- The Eagles
- The Monkees
- The Turtles
- The Byrds
- The Stray Cats
- Black Crowes
- The Cats
- Arctic Monkeys
- Modest Mouse
- Grizzly Bear
- Bad Bunny
You can use these the following lists to come up with a stage name that has an animal in it:
19. Use an Object
Some songwriters like to use objects to come up with ideas for their songs.
You can use the same method to generate a great band name/artist name?
Look at the surrounding objects.
If you see an old car that reminds you of your childhood, this may give you an idea of a name for your band.
Take a look at these cool band names which were inspired by objects:
- Red Hot Chili Peppers
- Blind Melon
- The Rolling Stones
- The Flaming Lips
- Pearl Jam
- The Smashing Pumpkins
20. Use a Song Title
Can you think of bands that were inspired by their favorite songs and took their name from song titles?
Here are some intriguing examples:
- Death Cab For The Cutie was taken from the song “Death Cab for Cutie”, which was written by Neil Innes and Vivian Stanshall in 1967.
Radiohead was taken from the song “Radio Head” on the Talking Heads album True Stories in 1986.
Once again, I have to tell you that some music marketing experts advise against using a song title as your band name.
Because these famous song titles are the most borrowed ones.
They have been used a lot.
Not only that, but it is also going to be hard to find you on the internet.
If you call your band “Let It Be“, guess what will pop up first on Google when someone tries to search for your band?
Then again, just like already said, there are no hard rules for picking the right band name.
With that in mind, I don’t think you should avoid artist names that are based on song titles completely.
You should just be smart about it.
If you’re interested in finding band name ideas that are based on song titles you should check Wikipedia’s extensive list of songs.
21. Find a Band Name in Places
Some bands/artists were inspired by a place when they tried to create a band name.
You can consider using a region, landmark, name of city or town that you relate to.
Here are some great bands named after places:
You can use these neat tools to help you find places that would fit your band name:
22. Find Band Name in Nature
Chances are, you’ve heard about bands that have some elements of nature in their names but never really gave it a thought.
Take a look at these band names:
Here are name generators that’ll help you find band names that are associated with nature:
23. Find a Band Name in an Event
You can definitely find ideas for band names if you examine events.
Here are some interesting examples:
- The American Indie Folk Band, The Decemberists, took their name from The Decemberists Revolt in 1825 during which the Russian army protested against the regime.
- The English Rock band, The Levellers, were inspired by the Levellers 17th-century movement which fought for equality before the law.
24. How About Using a Concept as Your Artist Name?
Using a concept as your band name can make you stand out distinctively.
The benefit of using a concept is that it has a meaning that may align with who you are and what you represent.
Look at these bands for example:
If you want to pick a band name that has a concept look at these lists:
25. Use Rhymes
Rhyme is ingrained in the craft of songwriting.
There are two general reasons lyricists use rhymes.
They are pleasant to hear and say.
And they are catchy and memorable.
Check out these rhyming band names:
If you’d like a band name that rhymes, check out these great rhyme generators:
26. Use a Number
Should you use digits in your band name?
Sure, why not?
Others have done so before:
- The Jackson 5 used the digit five because they were five brothers in a band.
- U2 used the digit 2 because it is ambiguous and open to interpretations.
- Before Blink182 came up with its final band name, it was called “Blink.” The band was forced to add the 182 to its name because another band was already using the name Blink.
- The band Zero 7 chose its name after two of their members spent some time in Honduras. On an island there, they visited a bar that was called Cero Siete (which means zero seven in English).
Thinking about how to come up with a band name is an important key to your success as a musician.
There’s no magic formula for choosing a band name or artist name.
Taking the time to come up with a memorable, evocative, and distinctive band name or artist name is time-consuming.
However, it’s definitely worth the effort and time.
If you do it right, your fans will remember you.
Potential fans are more likely to find you on social media or Google.
But please remember that even if you find the best band name on earth, you still need to take care of the other important aspects of your music:
- Your songs – check out songwriting articles here
- Your production – check out production articles here
- Your overall music marketing – check out the music production article here.
Now, I’d like to hear from you.
Do you have a band name at the moment?
What was one method that you liked in this post?
Are you considering changing your band name?
Leave a comment below.
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