I began writing an ‘amusing’ article last night, it was to combine my twin passions for music and search marketing. It was to be entitled ’20 band or artist names that are impossible to Google’.

I figured this would be ripe for hilarity and also an interesting look into what new bands and artists need to consider when trying to market themselves online. 

After all we live in a ‘digital first’ world where bands like Chvrches specifically spell their name wrong so they can be searched more easily and Owen Pallet dropped his Final Fantasy pseudonym in order to drive more traffic to his site instead of the computer game franchise.

I was wrong.

While compiling the list, the ethically-minded journalist part of my brain took over and I realised that I should probably check the band names out on Google to make sure my theory held water.

I then realised how much has changed when it comes to search and that the idea of Google as a rigidly blinkered tool is an antiquated notion. 

Here’s the beginning of the list:

  • The The
  • The xx
  • X
  • Television
  • A really offensive American grindcore band name that I can’t repeat here.
  • Yes

Here’s what happens when you search for The The.

The first eight results are for the band The The and they even get their own card on the right hand side.

I didn’t even know Google recognised duplicated words in the search field, perhaps Google has become savvy to this particular problem and just fixed its algorithm specifically for this search term.

Next I tried The xx.

I thought it would be relatively easy for searchers to get that name wrong and either type ‘xx’ or ‘the xxx’ and be confronted with particularly non-musical content.

Again I was wrong. Here’s the search results for ‘the xxx’.

The xx places top of the card on the right-hand side. Clicking through that card takes you to the search results page for ‘The xx band’ with all its related links, videos, official website, tour dates and more.

All of the subsequent bands I searched for resulted in similar results pages.

For instance, the search for Television reveals all kinds of expected non-band related organic results, but the band themselves have their own card on the right as clear as can be.

Perhaps what should have scuppered my writing of the original article before I even got this far should have been the fact that a rudimentary search revealed that there are many similar list-based articles out there on the same subject.

Interestingly though, none of the articles are written beyond 2010, probably the point when Google improved the intuitiveness of its algorithm.

Of course Buzzfeed has a similar list. Buzzfeed would. However if I began the practice of not writing about something just because Buzzfeed covered it, I’d never get anything done. 

Buzzfeed’s list is called ‘21 Of The Most Ungoogleable Bands Ever’. This was written in July 2013, so fairly recent and contains much more up-to-date bands.

For example:

  • The Men
  • Girls Names
  • First Aid Kit
  • Friends

The premise is that these names are impossible to search for without adding the term ‘band’. This was certainly true six months ago, but after trying it myself…

Even the band Friends get their own card on the right hand side. Although it will always be slightly buried underneath the more obvious entertainment brand. But then that’s their own stupid choice. Even if you’re a hipster band from Brooklyn it doesn’t mean you can pretend to have never heard of the biggest, cheeriest sitcom of last century.

It’s become a lot easier for bands and artists to be found these days, so there’s perhaps little to worry about in terms of picking a digitally optimised name. Especially because searchers are fairly au fait with coupling the search term with ‘band’.

What if your band doesn’t want to be found?

What if you want to be really ‘punk’ and spit in the face of digital marketing? What possible name could you give yourselves in order to remain true to your analogue selves?

Might I recommend going heavy on the punctuation. Try doing a search for the bands !!! or †††. It’s impossible.

There’s a whole world of punctuation out there, from £ to * to % to } from which to choose and flip-off Google with.

Thanks for listening.

For more articles on music marketing from the blog, check out Google reveals the history of popular music (sort of) and is Beats about to launch a Spotify killer?