Mouserat

I don’t’ know if you know this, but SONOS recently changed their name to ARORA. The group claimed that the speaker company, also named SONOS, was getting a lot of recognition, and it was becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish the two.

Fair point. Your name is everything. It’s your brand, your identity; it’s how people can find you, talk about you, search for you, socialize with others who share the common interest of you.

Unless you have the fan allegiance of SONOS…ummm…ARORA, changing your name is either next to impossible, because it’s like starting all over again with a new band; or it’s too easy, and by changing it, you’ve sent a message that your group is not important or liked well enough for it to matter what your name is.

Andy Dwyer’s band, Mouserat, from the television show “Parks and Recreation,” changes band names as often as Leslie Knope creates idea binders. (if you don’t watch the show…that’s A LOT) From Eagle Eye Tiger to Ratmouse, the band has gone through a number of different identities, even though the four members have stayed exactly the same.

Why is this on my mind? Because a new a cappella group at Five Towns asked me for advice on a group name. Here’s what I told them:

1) No music puns or music vocabulary

There was a time when I truly believed that music groups should have musical sounding names.

This is only one man’s opinion, of course, but now I dislike group names with musical puns. Besides, a music pun doesn’t explain that you are an a cappella group, just that you are a music group, so the purpose of a musical-pun name is already moot.

Of course, that’s not to say there aren’t some amazing groups out there with musical pun names. Rockapella, for example. Or Pentatonix. Or…

Backbeats, Divisi, Noteworthy, Forte, Solo, Fermata Nowhere, Street Corner Symphony, Vocal Point, Deltones, Soul’d Out, Clef Hangers, Crosstones, Logarhythms, Ithacappella, Acappology, Low Key, Cognitive Resonance, Midnight Ramblers, Undertones, Voices in Your Head, Chollaries, N’Harmonics, Chordials, Rusty Pipes, Off The Beat, A Completely Different Note, Veritones, Scattertones, Casual Harmony, Blue Notes, Rip Chords, Xtension Chords, Fermata Town, Octaves, Counterpoint, Takenote, Groove For Thought, Acafellas, Sirens, Naked Voices, Lost Keys, Compulsive Lyres, Whispers, Singsation, Overtones, Dodecaphonics, Callers, Acoustix, Eight Beat Measure, Decadence, Fundamentally Sound, Pitch Slapped, Socal Vocals, Treble Makers, Da Capo, Vocaldente, Hi-Fidelity, Toxic Audio, The Accidentals, Bvocal, Major Minors, Town Criers, Fundamentally Sound, Jukevox, Men of Note, B-naturals, B-sharps, Joint Sound, Unstrumental, Beyond Measure, Ascending Height, Mxolydians, Tone Appetit, Fermata, Encore, Muses, Offkey, Double Treble, Here Comes Treble, Downbeats, Artists in Resonance, Vocal Rush, Aural Pleasure, Twisted Measure, Spartones, Vox One, Maybebop, MuSix, Class Notes, Ransom Notes, Aural Fixation, Pitches Be Crazy, Opportunes, Nothin’ but Treble, Dischords, Takenote, Sympathetic Vibrations, Treblemakers, Bostones, Undertones, Minor Variation, Notables, Lookin’ Sharp, Not Too Sharp, Cadence, Vocal Motion, Capital Blend, Vocal Majority, MelUDees, Duly Noted, In Achord, Metropolitones, Frequency, Achordants, Vocal Suspects, Vocal Chaos, Groovestand, Soundcheck, Capital Hearings, Keychange, Smokin’ Hot Pipes, Deaftones, Toccatatones…

2) It must have character

Is your group sexy? Hilarious? Professional? Hard-rock lovers? Brainy? Secretly the Ninja Turtles?

The name must reflect that. Don’t call yourselves the “Clownbutts” and expect to be branded as the hippest a cappella group on campus. Speaking of which…

3) It should represent something you have in common

Most commonly, college and high school groups will name their a cappella group after the college mascot or local hotspot. This gives it instant recognition and location dominance. The Pitchforks are from Duke. The Sil’hooettes are from Virginia. No one is going to mistake them with anyone else.

4) Please Google/Bing it

If you don’t want to have to keep explaining “Oh no…we’re that OTHER group with the same name,” then don’t have the same name.

5) Can you draw it?

Once you’ve allegedly picked a name, draw a logo for it: something that embodies the entire name in one picture. Can’t do it? Don’t use it. That means it’s probably forgettable.

6) Make sure it can’t be transformed into something bad.

Eventually, you are going to develop a nickname for your group. Pentatonix is PTX. A group I was once in, Vocal Point (not BYU…a different one) was referred to as VP.

A group like “Pitch people” may run into some trouble (The PP’s). The University of New York (not a real place) Sextet could also be misconstrued (UNYsex, The Sexes, The Tet’s).

7) Merchandising! Merchandising! Merchandising!

Will this name, with it’s twenty-plus letters, cost too much ink on your T-shirt? Will your groupies be known as the “UNYsex lovers?” Will you be able to identify your songs on iTunes?

Creating a name, or even changing a name, is a big responsibility. Don’t take it lightly.

Of course, you could always go to a random name generator. For example, my Hobbit name is “Reginard Foxburr of Loamsdown.”

#Name

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