How to create a band name geared towards SEO and Google rankings

How many times have you heard someone say “That’d be a great a band name!” in response to a clever, humorous, or cool-sounding string of words?

Probably more than a few times — but is it really a good band name? In practice, coming up with an effective band name usually takes a little more intention. It’s a delicate balance between (1) picking something that resonates with your music, and (2) making sure that people can easily find you when they type your band name into a search engine or streaming service. The latter is increasingly important in today’s world, where online visibility can make a huge impact on your career. Although you absolutely shouldn’t let your self-value as an artist be defined by numbers, equipping yourself with knowledge around SEO (search engine optimization) prior to making a somewhat irreversible decision on your band name can’t hurt.

Heidi Patalano from Berklee Online’s Take Note identifies five tips for creating a band name that will make you stand out on Google – below, we highlight three that we think are particularly key. Note that all of these tips aren’t relevant to just bands, but to solo artists, beat makers, and DJs as well.

1. Avoid generic terms and phrases

When creating a band name, avoid using a single term or phrase that’s already widely used. Single words like “America” or popular idioms like “the elephant in the room” get a high volume of searches, but ranking at the top in Google is going to be impossible. Sure, there are outliers — Queen, Journey, Future, and TWICE have managed to climb the rankings on very generic terms. However, if you’re just starting out, you want to make sure that new listeners can find you online after they’ve heard you open for an act or received a recommendation from a friend. If you still want to keep your name short, go for an unusual combination of two words or an uncommon single term.

2. Don’t incorporate another band’s name

Whatever you do, don’t explicitly base your name off of another artist. No matter how deeply you’re inspired by them, Maroon 4 and Lil Nas Jr. probably aren’t the best choices for a band name. Marrying yourself to a different artist’s legacy locks you into an association that you’ll never be able to step away from, no matter how your band or your influence changes in the future. You’ll also have an already-established, formidable foe to rank against in search results (not to mention the possibility of getting sued depending on your name). Taking influence from how a band came up with their name might actually prove to be very fruitful, but avoid using the name itself.

3. Check for online availability

Before you settle on a band name, make sure that the domain is available and that the name isn’t already taken on sites like SoundCloud and Bandcamp. Checking if the handle is available across the main social media platforms is a good idea, too. Supplement these with a broad search across Google, YouTube, Spotify, etc., to see if you have any competition that you were unaware of.

Do you have any tips for coming up with effective band names? Let us know in the comments below, and check out Take Note’s article for a deeper dive into these tips and more.

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September 25, 2019

Harrison Shimazu

Harrison Shimazu is a composer, content strategist, and writer who’s passionate about democratizing music creation and education. He leads the Splice blog and produces vocaloid music as Namaboku.