John Paul Jones seems to think so. The former Led Zeppelin bassist recently told the Wall Street Journal about the challenges he faced in coming up with a name for his new band.
“Every other name is taken,” said Jones. “Think of a great band name and Google it, and you’ll find a French-Canadian jam band with a MySpace page.
Trademark rights are pretty much worthless if they can’t be used to prevent others from using a the same name, or even a confusingly similar name. And given that trademark rights are generally established by being the first to use a name in commerce, the quest for the perfect band name takes on certain aspects of a footrace. (I mean, once someone stakes their claim on “Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin,” aspiring rock bands can just pack it in and starting thinking of other world leaders to whimsically evoke.)
So why is this a hot issue all of a sudden? Apart from the obvious mathematical law that states that, as time proceeds, the number of available band names inevitably approaches zero, there is a more interesting and relevant issue that’s in play: technology.
I couldn’t put in any better than the Wall Street Journal does:
“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.”
So what’s an up-and-coming band in search of a good name left to do? Two things.
First, be creative. You’re in a band, after all; so this should be the easy part.
Second, be careful. In the present marketplace, with Rovi Corp., the owner of a large artist name database reporting a total inventory of 1.4 million artist names, I can’t stress enough the importance of clearing your rights to a name.
Finally, if you’re in the mood for a laugh and/or procrastination device, check out the “Most Annoying Indie Rock Band Name Generator.” (I clicked until I stumbled upon my favorite: “Jimmy Hoffa Community College.”)