How To Come Up With A Band Name
There is no magic formula for how to come up with a band name. But to save you time, I’ve asked 30 bands and musicians for their advice. Many of you have probably looked at a band name generator or group name maker with no success. Naming a band can be a difficult and frustrating experience for musicians. Here is the consensus from over a hundred musicians, and the best tips on how to come up with a band name.
1. Find a name that resonates with your music
A significant meaning behind the name may strengthen your brand. Perhaps it has special meaning for the members of the band? My favorite in this category is A Tribe Called Quest. Think about it… bringing a group together for a purpose. You see how this fits with the brand and mission of the band? I love the way the syllables flow and it ends on that powerful word “quest”.
2. Don’t settle
The right name will come if you are patient. One will come that feels right and ticks all the boxes. Always keep your ears open for band names when you’re searching. A conversation with a friend can lead to a great band name.
3. Don’t Just Google It
Stay away from names that are taken by many other bands. Make sure the name is legally available. Check with the US Patent and Trademark Office database here. Go beyond one Google search. Check on Spotify, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, etc. Search engine failure is a huge reason for bands going through the hassle of a name change.
4. Get Inspired, But Be Careful Of This
Get inspired from song lyrics of bands you like. But stay away from direct song titles, or you will compete directly with a search of that song.
5. Don’t Use a Band Name Generator
Don’t use a band name generator. Although Post Malone and Childish Gambino worked out just fine.
6. Play With Words
Play with different words you like. Some examples; Allantide – They took a first name and put it with a noun. Animal Sun – two nouns that don’t fit together. Or separate two words like Blank Against Blank or Blank For Blank. Or try using one word twice. Example; Sin For Sin or Man Against Man.
7. A Unique Name Or Spelling
A unique name or spelling can help you show up easier on search engines and streaming sites. A catchy name helps people remember it. Don’t make it too abstract or it becomes hard to remember and hard to search for.
8. Keep Your Global Audience In Mind
Chances are you have fans all over the world. Try not to pick something that would be to difficult for foreign audiences.
Here is What 30 Bands Had to Say
“If anything, I would say don’t overthink it. There’s a lot of stupid band names out there. But if you have killer music and an awesome live show, a name won’t make or break your success.” – Benny – Avoid
“When we were deciding how to come up with a band name, we ran into a TON of obstacles. The biggest thing we were doing wrong was overthinking it. We were all caught up in the fine details, versus finding a name that resonated with our music and image. Take a step back, listen to your music, what are some words that you think resonate with your band, your image, and your sound? Work off of those ideas. Keep it easy so that people can remember it too. Stray away from the fine details and make a powerful, memorable name.” – Jake – Skyhaven
“Take your time and come up with something that means something to all of the members. But it could also mean a lot to anyone listening. If you have a word or a motto you live your life by – try saying it in a different way. Bury Me in Lights means a lot to all the members, but could also mean a lot to anyone listening. The band name can say a lot about the music.” – Robert – Bury Me in Lights
“In my opinion, having the right name for your band is really important. People who have never heard of you will judge and categorise your music before they even play your music based on what they think your name sounds like. For example, our band name MDRN LOVE was taken from a song written by David Bowie.
We decided it would be easier to find our music on streaming services and search engines by having a unique spelling, and also because we believe we have a modern take on rock music.” – Jack – MDRN LOVE
For deciding how to come up with a band name we used elements such as:
- Something that was unique and easy to find in a search engine,
- Using inspiration from artists we liked ie; other song/ album names,
- Things that would appeal to a broad and inclusive audience.
“Have fun with it and be creative. Sometimes a cool band name comes up during a conversation with a friend without even thinking about it. Every now and then you’ll hear an arrangement of words that really has a ring to them. Always keep an ear out for band names when trying to think of one.” – Danny – After Hours
“People always says don’t overthink a band name. Take ‘The Beatles’ for example. Terrible name! Haha. But their music did all the talking and made them a household name. But I think in this day and age, it does need to be more considered when choosing your band name. Mainly in the sense of originality and standing out when it comes to search engines and domain names.
So with our name we knew we wanted something abstract that didn’t really mean anything – but also that wasn’t already taken. It was just luck that we were listening to ‘The Pixies’, and two songs ‘Hey’ and ‘Gigantic’ were playing back to back. And there it was! It sounded cool to us, no one else had the domain name, and it didn’t mean anything to anyone.” – Jonny – Hey Gigantic
“How to come up with a band name can be a rather difficult task. It’s the cornerstone of your project and needs to share a personal connection amongst the members. We wanted to make music that reached down to the core and emotionally connected to our listeners. When Spirit Breaker was brought up, it instantly clicked and we decided to stand behind it. We occasionally get asked if our name was influenced by the Defense of the Ancients (DOTA) character, or the August Burns Red song. Let’s just say that we didn’t know what DOTA was until the comments started to roll in.” – Johnny – Spirit Breaker
“Find something powerful, meaningful, and unique. Something that will take the world by storm! The word aviary was brought to our attention, but the thought of cages turned us away. We wanted freedom, no boundaries of the heart, mind, and soul. “NO HOLDS BAR!”. Claiming what is rightfully ours as artists and musicians. We refused to be held by society’s cages. We wanted to be Aviarist. Individuals capable of controlling their freedom and destiny at all cost. Where the artist never sleeps!” – Aviarist
“(1) Make sure it’s not already in use. Check Facebook, Twitter, and especially Spotify. (2) Think of a name that’s unique to you and fits within your genre. For example, I don’t think “The Pixies” would work well as a metalcore band.
Our name came about when I was playing a show with my old band. The guys in the other band were surprised how reserved I was in person because of how energetic I’d been on stage. I just laughed it off at the time. But later I got to thinking. I wanted a different creative outlet that was more true to me and who I am. The word “soft-spoken” came to mind. The inspiration to make it into one word “Softspoken” came from “Underoath” – who aren’t ‘Under Oath’. Then when the side project became my main focus and filled out into a band, the meaning behind “being true to yourself” has applied to everything the band does.” – Chris – Softspoken
“Supersede what’s trendy. Explore words and their relation to other words. A thesaurus is an invaluable ally. Think about how the name will reflect the music and how it represents the group. Take time to fall in love with a name that’s going to last. Our name is actually a very subtle reference to the B&B Corps from Metal Gear Solid. We had a list of easily over 100 potential names, and it simply fit with the sound we were striving for while also referencing something we love.” – Jake – Snakehound
“The band name is the foundation and identity of the group. So there should be a consensus. Associate all of the imagery and feelings your music inspires. Write it all down and review the themes until you close in on what feels right. I’d typically say don’t use a name generator (master exception being Childish Gambino). We wanted a name that defined us both as a group and individuals. Despite the radically different backgrounds and musical tastes we have, the music is coherent. Musically, we express individual style while building something unified. Mosaic was the obvious name!” – Nema – Mosaic
“Ensure that it’s catchy so that it can be easily remembered. Also, it needs to be unique enough to stand out in a line up and set you apart from other bands. Our band name came from the Manchester Orchestra song, “Everything to Nothing”. This gives a new listener insight about our sound without hearing us.” – Everything To Nothing
“On how to come up with a band name…Just try not to overthink it! I’ve been in so many bands in the past where we’ve tried to brainstorm names. Or we’d try to look anywhere and everywhere for some form of inspiration to come up with a name. Most of the time when taking that approach it ends up being cheesy. The right name will come. You don’t have to search high and low for it. When the right name comes along, you’ll know.” – Jake – Tiny Kingdoms
“When choosing a band name it should represent who you are as a band. It’s going to be the first thing people see. With our name “Voices” we wanted to be a voice for those whom are struggling. We wanted to represent those who don’t have a voice or feel like they don’t have a voice. A positive voice.” – Clint – Voices
“Don’t force the first thing that comes to mind. And before you go public with your project be sure you’d be happy being branded with that name forever. Glow wasn’t our first choice of name. It was a working song title (now Ainsley) that we decided was simple enough and held enough meaning to entitle our band.” – Ryan – Glow
“Find a title that represents you and your music. Listen to what you’re expressing as a band, and find a title you feel reflects that. For example, my band Neverlyn is a group of mostly females, so we chose a title that has a feminine tone, and is easy to remember. Also I would say don’t settle. If you have to change your name a couple of times, do it. It’s worth it to find the perfect name for your band!” – Anna – Neverlyn
“Coming up with a band name is no easy feat! You want something that is unique and going to catch people’s attention. Also it should fit nicely on t-shirts, tour posters or any promotional material. It’s very easy to overthink your name. We simply made a huge list of name ideas and narrowed it down from there. My advice would be to pick something memorable and make sure it fits your genre. Don’t name your indie band ‘Decapitated’.” – Tom – Borders
“We really struggled with band names! But we ended up looking through albums and looking at song names and picking from that. So my advice is if you find yourself in trouble look through some old albums and pull bits from song names until you find something you like. Also try and keep your name short. The less people have to try and remember the better off you’ll be.” – Trent – Hurricane Youth
“Most commonly you’re supposed to use the name of your first pet and the street you grew up on. However, the first thing we’d consider is an ethical brand/identity, isolated from all other similar names that express the essence of your group. We were supposed to be called “Keep It Grizzly.” But we didn’t know how long scene-core was going to last (haha!). So when forming our band in 2012, we came to a unanimous decision to call ourselves Polarity. We felt Polarity was a name that labeled all the characteristics of a brand that expressed the nature of our cumulative group.” – Andrew, Jordan, Gunnar – Polarity
“First and foremost pick something that you love. Because it’s something you never want to get tired of seeing or hearing. Secondly, choose something that will represent your sound well. You don’t want people to judge your sound based on your band name before hearing you. In other words, don’t be a pop band called Cannibal Corpse, even if it would be hilarious. Make it resonate well with your sound and overall image.” – Kyle – Current Events
“We spent ages trying to decide a band name! We wanted something that was short, simple and easy to remember. The inspiration for our name came from The Dictionary Of Obscure Sorrows. It also means “special” in German. I think when trying to find a name, it doesn’t always need to have deep meaning. But look for something you can connect with and others can too. You have to be proud to say it. So don’t just pick anything.” – Kraig – Sonder
“The two things to bear in mind with band names are: 1) Does it project the right image? 2) Am I going to sound like an ass when I have to explain the name? Every single interview you ever have will probably make a comment about the band name and how you came about it. So it’s important to have a better answer than “Oh we just typed it into band name generator” (Post Malone, I’m looking at you!). We spent a few months before we settled on ‘As December Falls’. Essentially it reflects how the band was born. You’re not creating just a band, you’re actually building a music brand. Every brand needs a story and that story starts with your band name.” – Ande Hunter – As December Falls
“We came up with the band name sort of accidentally when we were shooting the music video for our debut single “Leave the Light On.” Our drummer Henry wrote out “Hi, Mom!” on his bass drum head in duct tape, inspired by NOFX who did the same thing in their first national TV appearance. It’s also as a tribute to his mother who passed about six months previously. We’d been trying to come up with a solid band name for close to a year with no success.
I think that the most important thing with a band name, honestly, is that no one in the band dislikes or resents it. The quality and memorability of a band name is determined more in the end by band’s success level than anything. Huge bands like Foo Fighters and Green Day have totally silly names. But they’re the biggest rock bands in the world so no one ever thinks about their names. Coming up with a really great band name is a lot to live up to for how little it matters in the end.” – Bailey – Hi, Mom
“Choose a name that has motivational significance to your band. Something that solidifies why you’re putting all this time and energy into your music. Everyone in our band is a music fan first and foremost. We each have musicians and bands that motivate us to put everything we have into our music. So when it was time to choose a band name, we decided on Among Legends because our dream is to play alongside our favourite bands – the “legends” of pop punk and punk rock.” – Mitchell – Among Legends
“Choosing a band name is never an easy task. That’s why you shouldn’t overthink it to begin with. Try to listen to as much music as possible that you like as a group and just come up with words and phrases that you feel when humming along. People won’t have any problem with your band name as long as the music is good. So instead of focussing on coming up with a band name for an entire week, rather spend that week focusing on writing good songs. Mountains To Move for example is taken from a Seahaven song (Ghost). Don’t be afraid of taking a song title or parts of a song lyric from another band. Many of your favourite bands have done this without you probably even knowing it. For example, The Story So Far, Neck Deep, and Roam.” – Mountains To Move – Philippe
“Band Names! Argh! My nemesis! This can be the most soul-destroying exercise known to mankind. They say don’t overthink it, but who are we kidding, all our lives we’ve been dreaming of what our band name will be. Somewhere in our high-school diary there is a page dedicated to this very subject – if only we could remember where we put it! Ha!
For me, I think it is important to be sure that you are proud of your band name. It may not tick all the boxes such as, genre applicable, SEO friendly or short & sweet, but all of these rules can be overcome with how you present you brand. Sure, get as close to the guidelines as possible, but go with what you will be most proud of. Now… imagine how it is going to sound with 20k fans chanting it at a festival…” – Andrew – Pacing The Cage
“Consider your message, where you come from, and why you’re doing this “band thing”. A lot of times a good name holds true to the message you’re trying to put out. Which is great because a listener can have a vague idea of what you’re about before they even listen. Don’t rush a band name either. Write some songs, see where you’re going, and try them on in your head. The best ones will grow on you more and more as time goes on.” – James – Lightfinder
“I think having something that is unique enough for people to remember is important. It helps when people are searching the band. We were jotting down ideas and Foxjaw came up. We then did what every band does and Google it to see if we were original, and we weren’t. So we knew a hip-hop producer called Apollo Phox and thought it was interesting how he changed the F to a Ph. Then we asked him if he minded us doing the same to make Phoxjaw and he didn’t. So here we are!” – Josh – Phoxjaw
“We got our name “As Within, So Without” from the principle of correspondents used in some forms of religious practice. “As above” refers to the metaphysical realm and “as below” to the physical. “As Within” refers to the mind and soul, and “So Without” to the world outside of the individual.
Think of something that has meaning or, just have fun with it. Pick a name that you are confident you’d want people to know you by. Alway remember that the limit is only your imagination. You can go as simple as bands names like “Project 8” or “Plastic Man”. Or super creative such as names like “I Am The Giant” or “To Floss The Teeth Of Poseidon”. If the band is happy with it then no one can stop you.” – As Within, So Without
“Choose something that sounds good in general but also that sounds good to locals because they will be the first people to talk about you. (We’re from Belgium). Something people can pronounce easily. For example, French people won’t be able to pronounce a weird English name and they won’t take you seriously. For practical purposes, we think that it shouldn’t be longer than 3 syllables. Finally, never choose something “mainstream” that you see everywhere. You have to stand out of the crowd in a cool way!” – Reach The Shore
“Every solid band name I can think of is one that doesn’t follow a trend. It sticks out like a sore thumb. Even if it’s because it annoys you, it’s taking space up in your brain. I Remember the first time I heard of NASTY from Europe. I thought to myself ‘So simple and to the point.” It’s also marketable on so many levels. Follow your gut with names. Even if people hate on it for being different…it sticks out.” – Justin – Know Your Enemy
“You want to let whatever you come up with be an embodiment of the music. Therefore, it is helpful to begin the songwriting process beforehand so that you and the rest of the members have a pretty good idea what sound you’re going for. Then, you should naturally be able to think of a name that is both emulative of that sound and has some personal meaning to all of you.” – John – Exiled From Grace
“Focus on something that you want to represent you as a person AND as a band. Something to represent the sound you have created. We tried drawing words from a hat to make combinations. Hell we even had some help from friends, family, and online band name generators! A name is something that is discovered by you as a musician while creating your art. Don’t over think it, and don’t undersell yourself. You will know when the name is a perfect fit. It’s almost a gut feeling – like you are lightheaded for a moment.” – Poets & Wolves
These musicians have given us some great advice on how to come up with a band name. Put the band name generator away and start making a list of adjectives and words you like. A successful band name is one you’ll be proud of. Thank you to all of the band’s that contributed. And this wouldn’t be a thorough discussion without hearing your ideas and inspiration for band names in the comment section below. Post away!
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