It’s always fascinating to see the little ways in which the internet continues to change the music industry. The large-scale shake-ups are obvious and well documented, but it’s often the small shifts in thinking that smack you with the blunt realization that we’re in a rapidly evolving business.
On the most basic level, the Internet has changed the way that band’s choose –or should choose- their name.
Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is the art (if you will) of enhancing your website visibility by improving your search engine rankings. Certainly for a lot of businesses SEO has become a key strategy to online success. The higher you rank in Google searches, the more successful you’re likely to be.
The same theory applies for bands. If a friend were to suggest you check out a new band, I’d wager the likely response would be a quick jaunt over to Google to run a search.
How does your band name rank in Google?
Aside from their now obvious success, a unique band name like “Arcade Fire”, “Broken Social Scene”, or “String Cheese Incident”, is likely going to put these bands at the top of a search engine ranking.
If however, you were to call your band “House”, or “Department of Agriculture”, you’re going to have some pretty stiff search engine competition, and potential fans are going to have a much harder time finding your band.
The trouble with Tennis:
Take the band “Tennis” for example. While they may be known within indie circles, a new fan would have to dig through Google results before finding the Denver indie-poppers buried on the second page between photos of Roger Federer, and the latest US Open scores. Similarly, when searching YouTube to find a clip for this post, the word “Tennis” offered pages of sport highlights before showing anything remotely music-related.
It’s important to consider the outcome that a common word or phrase might have on your search engine rank. How much competition will you have for that prime Google real estate? What impact could that have on your overall sales and ability to grow your fan base?
In choosing our company name we opted to include the word ‘Mastering’ in all online branding, as the simple term ‘Mojito’ gives us a ton of non-music related competition.
This isn’t to say that having a common-word band name means good rankings are impossible. A search for the band “Girls” or “Women”(RIP) yields positive results. However, you can be certain it took them time, hard work, and an SEO battle to gain those rankings.
In a digital age where attention spans are short, it’s worth considering SEO when selecting a band name. Choose a name that’s unique, easily searchable, and makes it simple for new fans to discover your music.
For a great list of SEO band name do’s and don’ts check out Chris Bolton’s article over at Music Think Tank.
**Update** March 21, 2013- A great example of a band who altered their name specifically for SEO purposes? SXSW and CMW buzz band Chvrches. The scottish trio didn’t just do this for looks. This was done on purpose, with SEO in mind.