Recently I helped my friends change their band name. They’d been playing locally for about a year and quickly developed a solid and dedicated fanbase. But unfortunately the name had to be changed. Not only was the band taking a new direction with their music, but they’d had the misfortune to pick a band name that was common, and already used by another active band. With all of these issues the band decided they wanted a fresh start.
The band had the biggest gig of their lives coming up and I encouraged them to use this moment to announce to the world that they are ready for bigger and better things. With the day come and gone, I’ve made a list of things that we learned during the name change process.
1. Have your assets ready.
By assets I mean, website, YouTube channel, Bandcamp, Soundcloud, Twitter, Facebook, anything and everything that your fans are/were using to keep tabs on you should be ready for the change over. If you have a .com have it point to your new site. Have new photos with your new name everywhere. The idea is that from now on nobody will be using your old name. Give your fans the right resources to keep on being fans. Nobody likes a dead site with misinformation. Treat this like the big deal it is.
2. Get higher powers to anoint you/Use a big event.
Hype up your name change. Use a big show to help spread the word to more people and if at all possible have a higher power make the name change feel big. By higher power I mean anyone who will reach more ears than just you telling people from the stage. Examples of a higher power: A big blog, a big radio show, a bigger artist, anyone who can reach more people is a higher power. When people hear that a higher power is cool with your name change, others will follow.
3. Let your fans know your reasons for the name change.
Your fans will be interested in the WHY? You should not only be telling them why at your shows and on the street, but remember to use the interwebs. I’m not only talking about your own Twitter and Facebook, but hit the blogs. If you’re in a band that is starting to get heat, approach a blog with an “Exclusive” to talk about your name change. Pitch the story in a way that you think will get the most readers and blogs will be into it (Email as many as it takes to get a story).
4. Keep your old pages open… for a time.
As with all changes, it will take a time for your new name to become a permanent part of your fans psyche. So keep those old pages open but make sure on every single page there is a notice pointing to the new name and how fans can now join your new places. The when you’re ready close the old sites down.
5. Have no fear.
Everyone’s going to have an opinion on your new name. A few ppl will swear by the old one, but let’s be real for a second; are your fans here for your name or your music? Obviously if they’re true fans they’re here for the music. Have no fear in changing your name. You will continue to rock and you will continue to gain new fans who will have never heard of the old name. Do you think anyone cared when The New Yardbirds changed their name to Led Zeppelin? I think not. Don’t be afraid of the haters. Your music will shine brighter than anything. Keep working hard and keep pushing your new name.