Band Tips 101:The importance of a name

So. On one level, this is amazingly funny, in that really bizarre way that you almost wish wouldn’t exist. Go ahead and consider this your laugh for the day.

On another level, this is practically, if not actually, infuriating. You know what….infuriating is a bit overboard. How about….annoying. REALLY ANNOYING.

As a writer of fiction, often fiction where there are bands and musicians, I am not the most creative. My band names for many of these unpublished pieces of work are often stole from the names of songs that I like and want to reference as a guidance for the piece. But really, the point of this naming process: I know exactly where the name is coming from.

Is it too much to expect intelligence from modern bands? I don’t mind a nod towards other bands (Lady Gaga referring to Queen’s “Radio GaGa“? and could All American Rejects be named after the Bikini Kill song “Reject All American“? And Uh Huh Her-a band with an obvious nod to the incredible PJ Harvey), but to go from a nod to a direct, possibly ignorant, steal is just bogus.

Today I had the absolute misfortune of stumbling upon a band called Heavens to Betsy that does not include Corin Tucker or Tracy Sawyer. The facebook page describes this Heavens to Betsy as a Christian piano pop duo from Nashville, TN. The musicians? Ben Backus and Stephen Lynch.

A Christian Piano Pop Duo.

A Christian




Outside of the “duo” aspect, these bands have absolutely nothing to do with each other.

And in fact, the idea that this good Christian band that happens to play in venues unheard of in the Christian music scene (oh no! Frat parties!) so that they can get their message to the masses is okay with stealing the name Heavens indicates to me that the band is very stupid or just ignorant. And either way, the band isn’t going to be around for very long. A real career in the music biz isn’t just passion. It’s business savvy. And business savvy includes the business of names. You wanna get your band out there? You can’t steal other bandnames. While this is more true for bands of the same name (consider the Annuals vs. The Band of Annuals)*, you cannot think that it is okay to use the name of bands that are not currently together, especially if your messages are entirely opposite. Think about it: If you were going to form a good country band with christian undertones, would you name your band Cradle of Filth? Especially given the media around the actual Cradle of Filth? (not like you could name your country band Cradle of Filth. This is purely hypothetical.)

The fact is, you can’t do it. And you wouldn’t want to.

If you’re going to start a band, and if you’re going to go from your garage to the world of online social networking, or small indie distributers, make sure you do your research. This band name that you love so much…has it been used before? And if so:



*I was actually in Chapel Hill NC when the Annuals were becoming popular. When I moved to Utah, I quickly discovered that there was a band in Salt Lake also called the Annuals, and that due to the publicity and emergence of this NC band called the Annuals, this little Salt Lake band could not exist under the same name. Thus Salt Lake is Home to the Band of Annuals, while Chapel Hill is home to the Annuals


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