As an ageing rocker approaches retirement age, perhaps we should expect him to struggle a bit to come up with a cool name for a new band.
But when legendary Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones is having difficulty, you know something’s seriously amiss…
“Every name’s taken,” Mr. Jones told the Wall Street Journal. “Think of a great band name and Google it, and you’ll find a French-Canadian jam band with a MySpace page.”
As John Jurgensen explains:
‘The last decade’s digital revolution not only transformed the way people listen to music, it changed the way bands establish identities.
‘In the past, identically named acts often carved out livings in separate regions, oblivious or indifferent to one another.
‘Now, it takes only moments for a musician to create an online profile and upload songs, which can potentially reach listeners around the world.’
Of course where musicians find hardship, lawyers find potential clients. Trademark disputes and cease-and-desist letters have proliferated in recent years, as groups with the same or similar-sounding names duke it out to own the perfect band name.
Entities outside the music industry have also become involved. Jurgensen cites the following example:
‘In 1992, a newly formed band from Scotland called Captain America was endorsed and invited on tour by Nirvana front man Kurt Cobain, who was at the peak of his fame.
‘After a bidding war, Captain America was signed by Atlantic Records, just as Marvel, publisher of the Captain America comic book, sent the band a cease-and-desist order.
‘With its first U.S. record already in the pipeline, the group rechristened itself Eugenius, a reference to leader Eugene Kelly.
‘”Overnight, their career deflated,” says Steve Greenberg, the former Atlantic Records talent scout who landed Captain America. Mr. Greenberg blames the name drop.
‘”When people are given the chance to decide twice about a band, they don’t always make the same decision,” he says. “Fans of Captain America weren’t quite so sure they were fans of Eugenius.”
‘Mr. Kelly agrees that the ‘worst name ever’ derailed Eugenius. “A band name should pass the taxi-driver test: You shouldn’t have to tell him twice,” says the Glasgow singer, who is recording a new album with his pre-Captain America band, the Vaselines. That name, he says, “sounds good and looks good,” but it causes him some anxiety about the potential for another corporate dust-up.’
Hm… you don’t say…
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