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How To Come Up With A Band Name (15 Essential Tips)

  • Damian Keyes
    Damian Keyes
  • Aug 13th 2021

Picking a band name is hard.

Before social media, you could have anything you want.

The internet has changed the game when it comes to naming your band. Nowadays, you have to be able to FIND a band name easily online. They say to not overthink it, but come on. We are musicians. Creatives. It's what we do.

However, there is a strategic approach to finding the perfect name for your band, which I'll explain in detail.

What Makes A Good Band Name in 2021?

When coming up with good band name ideas in 2021, it should satisfy these 4 following criteria at least:

  • Easy to spell

  • Easy to find online

  • Not already in use

  • Easy to pronounce

We'll get into style and semantics later but, notice how these criteria are about thinking longer term than just having a cool sounding band name? Future proof your band's online presence and marketing by choosing a band name that people can easily find online.

When thinking about how to come up with a band name that ticks every box, it can seem like an impossible task. A great band name is only a few steps away though. Here are some of my top tips for coming up with an awesome band name in 2021.

1. Don’t Use a Band Name Generator

Yes, we all know it worked out just fine for Post Malone and Childish Gambino, but these are isolated examples of when band name generators seem to have struck gold.

You can go round in circles forever relying on the random nature of AI to do your hard work for you. And let's be honest, it's not that satisfying as a creative musician to have found your band name by pressing a button on a name generator website.

Post Malone

Post Malone's real name is Austin Richard Post. In order to create his stage name, he moved his last name to his first and got “Malone” through a rap name generator online.

Picture this. You're tasked with choosing a cool band name. 'No problem' you think.

You load up bandnamegenerator5000.com and get to work. You excitedly press the 'generate ideas' button and wait with bated breath to see the name that will define your musical career on screen. The name that you and your bandmates will dominate the globe with.

The random name generator spits out 'Her Majesty's Wrong Piano' and 'Gifted Napkins'*. Not quite your vibe? It's cool, this stuff takes time to get right.

You keep going. 2 hours later you desperately pull the band name generator slot machine one more time and up comes 'Rubber Duck Clown Cartel'*. It's bottom-of-the-barrel stuff you're playing with. This isn't it. And trust me, there's an easier way.

*These are 3 names I found on a band name generator for the purposes of this exercise! You’re welcome to steal them at your own peril.

2. Use Spotify For Word Inspiration

This is my favourite technique for coming up with interesting and original band names. Better yet, these names should resonate with you, your music, and your ideal audience.

It’s pretty common for bands to take their name from songs by other artists.

All American Rejects are just one example of this, inspired by the song "Reject" by Green Day, and its chorus, "your reject all-american".

Nowadays, it's not the best idea to directly name your band after a song title. You will be competing with the search results for that song on Google, Spotify, and more.

However, you can use multiple song titles on Spotify as inspiration to get you going. Here's how it works. Instead of waiting for inspiration, you can force the process.

  1. Load up a band you like on Spotify and start looking through their songs.
  2. Start writing down interesting words from their songs and discography.
  3. Start fusing different words together to create new words or phrases for potential band names.

We'll use British rock band 'Fightstar' for this example.

Scroll through their tracks and start writing down any words that pop out. You want a huge list, over 100 if you can!

Here are the words that jumped out to me at first glance from going through Fightstar’s song list and albums.

Fightstar Spotify

  • Titan

  • Sharp

  • Devil

  • Dark

  • Human

  • Dive

  • Sleep

  • Paint

  • War

  • Chemical

  • Rain

  • City

  • Eyes

  • Star

  • Mercury

  • Summer

  • Fire

  • Sky

  • Hazy

  • Bleed

  • Whisper

  • Message

  • Gate

  • Nothing

  • Ancestor

Now we want to start mashing words together, seeing if we can create a completely original name out of these. This could be a one, two, three, or more word band name.

Here are some names I made easily, in less than a minute from this shortlist of words.

  • Sky Titans

  • Sleepgate

  • Chemical Warpaint

  • Dark Summer

  • Nothing Whispered

  • Firedive

  • Mercury Rain

If your band is in a similar genre or related styles, these names would resonate with the fans you would like to reach.

Pick a few bands that you are inspired by and start playing around with this process. You'll be surprised at how quickly potential band name ideas start appearing in front of you!

You can see this very same process in action here:

Now, let's go through some extra tips to make sure you find the perfect band name for your music.

3. See If Your Name Is Already Taken

Do not skip this stage! Before settling on a cool band name, creating social media accounts, and announcing to the world, "We are Sky Titans!", please see if it's taken first.

It's simple really. If another band are active and using this name, move on. You cannot use it, so consult your list again. There are so many potential names out there, why would you try to use one that's already taken?

4. Google It – For Rival Brands, Not Just Bands

What are you supposed to do if your chosen band name isn't conflicting with another band, but an actual thing out there in the world?

First of all, don't even bother if it's a trademarked person or product. Coca Cola, Amazon, and Tom Cruise are monoliths with such a presence, that it's just silly to go up against them.

If it's simply a 'thing', you want to check - is your band going to get lost in the noise of the internet?

This is also a great example of how band names have changed so much with the digital age. Oasis was a great name back in the day. But nowadays, the internet knows it's also a drink and a fertile desert area.

Google

5. Make It Easy To Spell and Pronounce

Some bands really shoot themselves in the foot with this one. It becomes really apparent at live gigs and shows if the name is going to cause issues.

Think ahead to the times during your set list at a gig and you announce who you are to the audience. You might think you're being quirky and original by naming your band 'Skye T1tanz' instead of 'Sky Titans', but what happens when you have to explain to every potential fan that there is an 'E' at the end of sky, titans has the number 1 in it and oh yeah, it also ends in a 'Z'...

You don't have to be so cryptic and overly clever. At the end of the day, it's a band name, not the Da Vinci code.

Yes, you might want to use weird symbols, spelling, and other things, but if it hurts any potential of someone being able to simply hear your name and find you online instantly, don't do it.

6. Try Combining Multiple Words

This is a classic technique, and we used it earlier alongside our Spotify song name method. Mashing two words together to form one new, awesome word is a proven technique for trying to come up with a great band name. You only have to look at the following bands to see how it works.

  • Motor + Head = Motorhead

  • Audio + Slave = Audioslave

  • Cold + Play = Coldplay

  • Slip + Knot = Slipknot

If you're struggling to come up with something original, try different combinations of words in different orders. This can also help you separate yourself from other bands, brands, and more online.

Coldplay

7. Use A Portmanteau Technique

A step further from simply fusing two words together is to use a portmanteau.

Portmanteau is a literary device in which two or more words are joined together to coin a new word.

Popular ones you may have heard of include:

  • Smoke + Fog = Smog

  • Man + Animal = Manimal

  • Spoon + Fork = Spork

Again, use your list of words and see if you can create brand new words out of them.

Here is a cool Portmanteau Generator that you can use to easily fuse words together online and help you come up with an original name for your band!

8. Make Sure It Fits The Genre

This is really important, and one of the reasons why using the Spotify song name method is so good if you use similar artists.

As much as you may want to be completely original, you have to be aware that your new band name is going to give off a certain impression of who you are and what you sound like. For this reason, it's important to have a name that represents your sound and image as a group.

Don't name your indie-folk band, 'Rancid Carnage' for example.

Look at the following artist and band names. See if you can identify patterns in language, words, and semantics that exist within the genre. Do you think you could pick out the genre they are in, or even imagine the sound just from the name?

Rap Artist Names

  • J Cole

  • Lil Wayne

  • Jay Z

  • Young Thug

Metal Band Names

  • Black Sabbath

  • Slayer

  • Fiver Finger Death Punch

  • Suicide Silence

Folk Band Names

  • The Lumineers

  • Mumford & Sons

  • Fleet Foxes

  • Bon Iver

Pop Names

  • Ariana Grande

  • Taylor Swift

  • Justin Bieber

  • Billie Eilish

EDM Artist Names

  • Zedd

  • Avicii

  • deadmau5

  • Marshmello

Rock Band Names

  • Rolling Stones

  • Aerosmith

  • The Who

  • The Clash

Think about how each of these names conjures up an image of how they might sound.

I get it. You want to be unique. But don't let your determination to be original get in the way of your success.

Ready to join DK-MBA?

9. Define The Story Behind Your Name

Just so you know, every single interview you ever have going forward will feature some kind of question about your band name and how it came to be. It's a good idea to have a better answer than 'we used a band name generator', but what is the story?

Your chosen band name can reflect a story of your choice, deepen the connection with your growing fanbase, and prepare you for questions about your name in future interviews.

Take Lynyrd Skynyrd for example.

Leonard Skinner, their P.E. teacher in high school used to be very strict about the length of the band members' hair, so they came up with 'Lynyrd Skynyrd' as a way of referencing and mocking this story from their past and origins.

This is an awesome way to attach a story to your bio, during an interview, a show, and when speaking with fans.

10. Ensure A Consensus With All Band Members

When thinking about how to come up with a band name, there are loads of similarities to choosing a name for your child. One of the most important things when choosing a baby name is that neither parent dislikes it or resents it. The same can be applied to naming a new band!

All band members must be on the same page and be proud to talk about their band in front of other people.

You want a good band name that everyone can buy into, sounds cool, and that all members agree upon to avoid future fallouts or arguments.

11. Keep Notes On Your Phone For When Inspiration Strikes

Songwriters should be used to doing this already, but for some, it doesn't come naturally.

See an awesome word on a poster or hear an interesting phrase whilst watching TV? Start putting together a hitlist of cool words, phrases, and sentences on the notes in your phone.

The more you have to work with, the better. All of a sudden, something incredible can appear out of nowhere, and it would be a huge shame if you weren't to make a note of it for later use. The cool thing about this method is that you can use excess words for future song or album titles when needed.

Girlusingphone

12. Does It Mean Something Bad?

The last thing you want to do is create a band name that you love, start printing it on t-shirts and merch, only for it to be something INCREDIBLY offensive in another language, or have an entry on urban dictionary for something really gross.

Make sure you check any other potential meanings of your band name online or check to see if it sounds like something negative when said out loud.

Another thing to check here is the spelling when the words are fused together with no spaces. Thinking ahead with social handles, domain names and more.

Don't make the same mistakes as these unintentionally inappropriate business names:

  • IT Scrap = itscrap.com

  • Speed Of Art = speedofart.com

  • MP3s Hits = mp3shits.com

See what I mean? It's worth checking from every angle before you choose a name for your band.

13. Use Places & Street Names For Inspiration

There are loads of awesome bands and singers that found inspiration from street names, city names, locations, and landmarks when naming themselves.

  • Boston

  • Alabama Shakes

  • Texas

  • E Street Band

  • Linkin Park

  • New York Dolls

  • Bay City Rollers

Again, think about how the modern-day music fan consumes their music and searches for artists for Google and social media platforms.

I would recommend not just taking a place name in its entirety for your band name. You don't want to be competing against an entire country or city on search engines. Just use a place name as inspiration and alter it in some way.

Alabama Shakes is a great name for this reason. They have added another word to the mix, created something catchy, unique, genre appropriate, and search-friendly! Nice one guys.

14. Use Alliteration For A Catchy Name

Alliteration is a great linguistic technique when trying to come up with a catchy band name that people will remember.

Alliteration basically means repeating similar or identical sounds at the beginning of closely connected words.

Check out these band names as examples of alliteration used well:

  • Foo Fighters

  • Beach Boys

  • Scissor Sisters

  • Modest Mouse

  • Culture Club

It can create a really cool cadence and rhythm to your name. Trying out different techniques like this really starts to get you thinking about how your band names can sound when spoken out loud.

15. Don’t Be Afraid to Change Your Current Band Name If It's Holding You Back

I wanted to end on this tip because it's really important, and I get this question all the time.

"Is it too late to change my band name?"

My answer is simple. If your band name is preventing you from being as successful as you want to be or could be, you have to change your name. No question about it.

Who cares if you might lose your 300 likes on Facebook if you have to make a new page. If your current name is stopping that 300 from becoming 300,000, then what are you waiting for?

Don't worry about having to go through marketing your band again with a new name. If anything, make it part of your story.