Dave Carlock: Band name of upmost import

Published 1:50 pm Friday, December 21, 2012

In business, music business included, having a unique name is important. In that, I guess I got lucky with my surname since there aren’t too many Carlocks running around out there. But I can’t stress enough to new bands and music-related businesses to choose their name wisely. And if you really want to make a stab at turning your music into business, you really should have it all to yourself.

Some bands feel very connected to their chosen name, but the issue at hand has nothing to do with creativity or what the name means to you, and everything to do with your customers and fanbase being able to quickly and easily find you. In the Internet age, Google searches can instantly put the world at our fingertips and I mean the whole world. If there’s a band in Australia sharing your band name, your potential fanbase will find them. So before they do, sit down and do a name search on the Net. If anyone anywhere has your name, you’ll move on if you’re smart. You want zero confusion when someone’s trying to find you and support you with their attention and dollars.

I produced an EP for an L.A. band several years ago and the first thing I discovered when I searched on their behalf was that there was a metal band in the UK with the same name. Though the band had only a small following, one very vocal member was resistant to making a change because he claimed it took them a long time to choose the unoriginal name … Alrighty then! Not surprisingly, despite the talent of most of the band, the band never took off. Any guess who the biggest saboteur of their success was? Yep, you guessed it. My friend mixer Neal Pogue (Nicki Minaj, Lil Wayne, Outkast) probably said it best: “In any band, there’s always one wrench (in the spokes).”

Blink-182 was another example of a band that was forced to change its original name —‘Blink’— after discovering someone else in the UK had it in common. Mark Hoppus told me he just chose a random number off the top of his head on a rushed cell phone call to make the name Blink-182 a unique identity.

The San Diego-based rockers could have debated who was using the name first, but, in the end, who really cared? A name is just a way people identify and find you. To be successful, you need a clear landing spot in the marketplace, free of confusion. Can someone who’s only half-paying attention sit down, do a search for your name and find you? That’s a great test.

Being able to take your name and slap a “.com” at the end of it is the best-case scenario. This simplicity of discovery is the first thing I look for when doing a name search for a band or business. When launching Dave Carlock’s Unexposed Talent, the first thing I cleared was my website (unexposedtalent.com), and, if it were unavailable, I would’ve come up with another name.

What you’re called is much less important than confusing people looking for you and having them find another venture altogether. I have a friend who has to deal with market confusion over a product he created close to 30 years ago that he hadn’t done a trademark registration on. With 30 years precedence, he can’t change the name and now has some work to do to eliminate the marketplace confusion for the continued sale and promotion of his product.
Bands: Don’t be too precious about your name, particularly if you’re just getting started. Let it go if you must and find one that leaves all the normal arrows pointing directly toward you in your efforts toward success.

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”
— Juliet Capulet, from William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet”

Dave Carlock is a 25-year veteran of the entertainment business whose work as a recording engineer and producer, touring musician, and songwriter made him Googleable. His continuing work as an Independent Content Creator of Sound and Image has earned him a Grammy Award certificate, two Platinum Record Awards, and a Paragon Award in advertising. Currently, he brings national and international artists to make records and music videos at his production studio in the Benton Harbor Arts District. www.davecarlock.com