What makes a good artistic NAME? #PlotCast on Monday _ By Plot Mhako

This week I will talk about one of the most important things to an artiste’s career. NB: This also applies to all creatives. In essence an artiste’s name is their industry ID (identity). Thats their finger-print. It has to be unique, short, easy to say and tell a story.

By Plot Mhako

As you start doing music you will often get asked (How did you come up with your name?)

I know a lot of very talented Zimbabwean artists who use very bad / unappealing brand names which limits them in many ways. Sadly, most are not aware of this or they are stuck to their names even if people advise them to reconsider. Once your career picks-up a name change may be very possible but it will cost and hurt the artiste, so thinking deeply before giving yourself, your band or project a name is very crucial.

Nowadays a good artiste name should be something that you can put into google just as it is, and comes up with your online presence. Online music stores and distribution platforms are very particular on names.

Below are some pointers that can help creatives.

* Unique (this helps you stand out and get easily identified. Make sure no one has the same name. Don’t pick something that has already been taken before. (In this day and digital age a unique name creates a unique online ID for you). Google search for your desired name and see if it has already been taken. Also search on online platforms and social media to see if it has been taken already. It should be easy to search .
* Short (An artiste’s professional name should be short enough to easily write and remember)
* Don’t pick a name that will get people to mistake you for someone else.
* A good name should be easy to pronounce. It should not give people a nightmare to communicate.
* Don’t go for common words or frequently used names. I could have given some local examples but the artists may possibly be offended.
* An artiste’s name does not always have to be in English. Simple native names tend to carry more weight in the industry.
* Use normal Alphabet letters and no symbols in your name. Symbols or special characters may not be admissible on certain online music stores.
* Pick a name that embodies your style. (Your name should easily give a clue to the audience or other industry players about the kind of music you make)
* Keep it friendly. An offensive, explicitly political or sexually suggestive name will block even talented artists from accessing certain markets and brand deals. In Zimbabwe the media, business and consumers of music can be sensitive to this. So a name like Horny-bunny / Sexy Kuku may not be advisable.
* Name sure you can use the same name across social and professional media platforms.
* Use a name that you are comfortable using 5 to ten years later. Eg names like Young or Lil something can be a challenge once you become an adult.
* Dont mimic someone: In Zim I have seen names like Jnr xxx, Young xxx. Names that are derived from artistes that one idolises. That does not work. (You may remain a pale shadow of the original) Be your own version even in terms of the name. The music market respects originals not wanna bees.

“I wish I could drop some of the Zimbabwean artiste’s names that I strongly feel need to be changed.”

There are many ways creatives can use to come up with a good artiste name: Here are a few example. They are not exhaustive.

– Use a variation of your actual name e.g Feli Nandi real name Felistus Chipendo
– Play around with existing words and morph them into something unique or simply alter the spelling.
– You can use a metaphor.
– Descriptive words easily help people get an ideas of what you do e.g KadiJah will give an idea to people that you maybe a Reggae artist.
– Use a childhood nickname as inspiration.
– If easy to write, remember and unique its best to use your first name or full name: eg Chiwoniso / Hope Masike

However, after all is said and done, the biggest brand name an artist can have is their uniquely exceptional talent and creative works.


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