Changing band names midstream

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by uglycicles, Aug 13, 2004.

  1. uglycicles

    uglycicles Supporting Member

    Dec 10, 2003
    Southwest Chicago
    Hey there,
    Hoping some of you could offer some advice....

    I've been playing with my current group for about 2 years under our current name. In this time we've played about twice a month - bar gigs and fests, and a few higher profile gigs. Mostly obscure covers, but a few originals.

    We've agreed to change our direction to focus solely on the original material, get our CD together, and play more clubs and venues that feature original music.

    Because we're at this junction, we've been kicking around the idea of changing the name of the band. The current name works, I guess, but it's nobody's favorite.

    However, it's now at the point that promoters, club owners, and people in general are starting to slowly recognize the name, and the thing I'm afraid of is essentially starting from scratch and losing whatever reputation we have built on the name in the last 2 years.

    Has anybody been through this in the past? Any advice, other than putting "formerly known as xxx" on the flyers?

    Or is this a bad idea, and just stick with what we've got?

    Thanks in advance! :bassist:
  2. secretdonkey


    Oct 9, 2002
    Austin, TX
    I know a couple of bands who did this exact thing. Both changed their names to reflect the new original format. One of them plays regularly under the new name for original/showcase gigs, and still plays cover gigs under the old name. The other band has tried to stay the originals course, but has had to resort to playing a few cover shows to make some much-needed money, and did so under their old coverband name.
  3. uglycicles

    uglycicles Supporting Member

    Dec 10, 2003
    Southwest Chicago
    Thanks SecretDonkey - did either of them seem to have any problems with playing under 2 different names? I would think it would be confusing to people. Sometimes a band gets a buzz just because their name is in the papers all of the time - I would think having 2 names would dilute the publicity. No?
  4. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    If the music is THAT different, you're going to be playing to a different demographic. What you don't want to have happen is have all the folks who want to hear the originals show up at the cover gigs and the folks who want to hear covers show up at the originals gig, that way you lose ALL your audience. The clubowners and folks who are getting familiar with BAND NAME A are familiar with it as a band that does MUSIC A. And when they book BAND NAME A they are thinking that they are going to get MUSIC A. If MUSIC B is a big change in direction, I think you would be shooting yourself in the foot, keeping BAND NAME A. Sure , you get a buzz. But if folks showing up are never sure what they're going to get (or are expecting to hear what somebody told them about when they saw you before your restructuring), they just get confused and the buzz becomes BAD buzz.
  5. Thor

    Thor Moderator Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Two of TB's finest gave their venerable opinions.
    The first opinion is ASSi9, of course, as that's the source,
    not even a half horse.

    Hed Spookya is right on, and I humbly agree with his
    loudly New Yawkish take on it.

    We should all have the problem of having enough fans to be able to confuse them... sigh ...
  6. secretdonkey


    Oct 9, 2002
    Austin, TX
    Wow. I'll get those vanity license plates ordered first thing Monday. :D

    Ugly: Ed pretty much nailed the issue on the head. I'll try to illustrate...

    1. The second band I mentioned earlier is a "modern rock" act. Fans in this genre would tend to draw a sharp line between cover acts and original acts. Also, the gigs, venues, contacts and goals are totally different. They have been working the regional cover circuit for years and have their connections there. The venues they play and the booking agents they use as a cover band are next to worthless for an original act, though. Lucky for them, a new member is reasonably well-connected in the industry and has been able to score them opening slots for some smaller rock tours. But in their case, it is a very solid A vs. B thing, as Ed puts it. This is the band that got hungry and went back to play a few cover shows. To have done so under their new original name would really risk whatever "cred" they've established as an original act. Rock audiences are just like that, for better or worse, IME.

    2. I'm currently working for an up-and-coming "Texas country" act. Here the line, separation, whatever... between originals and covers doesn't need to be as sharp. The guys I'm working for are promoting their album and getting regional airplay, and we do a lot of low-paying "showcase" gigs where we play mostly originals, to further that cause. We also take gigs that are more "covers" oriented, because they pay relatively well. We don't change our name for these gigs, and we play our originals mixed in with "classic country" that compliments our style. It's still a fine line to walk though, and we've recently played some big halls that really wanted mainstream Nashville country, and the place felt pretty darn chilly, if you know what I mean. Nonetheless, we're able to walk that line in a way that the modern rock band above couldn't really get away with.

    With my band, the expectations of the audience, booking folks, and clubowners generally let us get away with having a foot on each side of the fence in a way that the modern rock band could never get away with. You'll have to decide whether your niche more closely matches my band or my friends' band.
  7. nonsqtr

    nonsqtr The emperor has no clothes!

    Aug 29, 2003
    Burbank CA USA
    You "could" disguise yourself, in one band or another. :)

    Having two band names could be cool, especially if you get famous (under one or both), and people start looking into who you are. Then it'll be like a "cult secret". Hey, did you know ugly is also in this other band?

    So at first, it might boost your CD sales. But then they'll start conspiracy theories about you, that's generally how it goes. Hey, ugly's in disguise, or ugly's in drag. Ugly's really a CIA agent, who else would be in two bands at once, with all the same people?

    I'd leave out the "formerly known as" part though. Smacks too much of %&$^, or whatever that guy's name was.
  8. I too have had associations with bands that had a couple of different names. For classic rock gigs, they'd book themselves under a suitable name, and go to the gig wearing rock-and-roll outfits. Other nights they'd be country, and gig in jeans and cowboy shirts/boots/hats. Since the two genres weren't usually together at the same club, it worked fine.
  9. You "could" disguise yourself, in one band or another. :)
    .... But then they'll start conspiracy theories about you, that's generally how it goes. ....

    My theory is that Jim Morisson didn't really die in a Paris bathtub. He later resurfaced as Leon Redbone.
  10. Mike N

    Mike N Missing the old TB

    Jan 28, 2001
    New York
    We changed names mid-stride and it didnt seem to hurt us. If anything, it helped us. We were a modern rock cover band playing under the name "Whiskey Richard". People would come to the shows expecting to hear southern rock, not Nirvana and Candlebox. Also at the time there were two Skynyrd tribute bands in our area, one named "Poison Whiskey" and the other "Whiskey Road".

    The new name was "Telepathy", and our new fliers didnt mention the old name, or "formerly known as......." or anything like that.
  11. nonsqtr

    nonsqtr The emperor has no clothes!

    Aug 29, 2003
    Burbank CA USA

    See? :D

    You might not have to die first though. Although, you could fake a suicide.... but only in one band. :ninja:
  12. uglycicles

    uglycicles Supporting Member

    Dec 10, 2003
    Southwest Chicago
    Thanks for the advice, everybody.

    Ed - good points, the original material is definitely in the same vein as the cover material, so changing names shouldn't throw the fans that come out to the shows too much. Even with the cover material we currently do, much of it is pretty obscure enough that I'd say a healthy portion of the crowd thinks it's our own material anyway.

    Oh, and nonsqtr,

    ixnay on the agent-nay :bag: :D