This blog is about why I changed my artist name, and why a name change might be needed.
I first started my solo music project back in 2005 and named it Mechanized Warfare. This name was highly influenced by the Marilyn Manson album “Mechanical Animals”, but I twisted the first part around to “Mechanized” and ended up sticking “Warfare” onto it because it sounded cool. The name made me think of robots fighting, and this was before the first Transformers movie came out in 2007. I was in other bands at the time and none of them ended up working out. Mechanized Warfare ended up being what I had worked on up until 2016 when I completely quit the music business. I eventually came back to the music world in late 2019 under the name The Evil Dark. There are a few reasons why I did not continue to use the previous name, and I will explain those reasons in this blog post.
Mechanized Warfare was an Industrial music based project. In the beginning it was more experimental than anything, since it did not fall under any particular genre at the time. After awhile it morphed into an Industrial Metal mixed with Aggrotech music project, and this is where it was in 2016. Coming back under a different genre would be one of the reasons I changed my name to The Evil Dark. However, I do admit that you can make an argument that there is a close relation between Aggrotech and Darksynth/Cyberpunk (more notable bloggers have talked about a correlation between these genres), and there have been some former Aggrotech music producers that moved over to making Darksynth & Cyberpunk music.
The reason I changed my name is because I expected my sound to be completely different than what I was producing under the name Mechanized Warfare, but whether or not it actually sounds different is really up to the listener. In my opinion, a name change would be fitting if you were to switch to a completely different genre. For example, if you make Black Metal and want to switch to Country music, you would definitely need to consider a name change. Switching genres does not always warrant a name change, but in some cases it does. You do have to think about your fans and if they would be willing to listen to your new stuff even if it is different, or risk losing all of your fans if the change is too dramatic. It’s a calculated risk, and the artist themselves should make the final decision on this one.
Since there was an issue with the name I was using, I wanted to get rid of it and use a new name. I had a longstanding issue with using the abbreviation “MW” for Mechanized Warfare because of a certain popular shooter game that first came out in 2007 called Modern Warfare. So because I had used that abbreviation on some of the URLs I was using, I ended up getting some smart-ass comments from people that didn’t realize my music had pre-dated that game’s existence. After all, 2005 happened before 2007, if the obvious is needed to be stated here. Another issue was that I had unknowingly used the same name as a Jag Panzer album, which is not how I came up with the name. I had always felt uncomfortable using the name ever since learning about that album. And if that wasn’t enough, there were “gamer clans” on YouTube that started to call themselves “Mechanized Warfare” in the mid-2010’s, and there is also an Airsoft account on Twitter that uses that name. While the name itself is not unique, there were just too many people using it in the mid-2010’s.
When I came back to the music world, I did not want to be one of those people trying to tell everyone that I was not one of these dozens of people using my name. Renaming my music solo project to The Evil Dark still has a few issues, but not as many as my previous name. If you Google my name you still get a lot of useless stuff that has nothing to do with music, but it’s not quite as bad as it was before. If you use certain search terms, even with SEO optimization, my stuff will finally pop up and appear in search results, which is better than nothing.
Now that I explained why I changed my name, I will attempt to give out some of my advice. Should other music artists consider changing their project names?
It depends on what you are doing with your music, and if the name is being used elsewhere. If you are switching to another genre that has nothing to do with your current genre (like my example of Black Metal to Country), then it would be worth considering rather than losing all your fans. Some genre changes don’t need a name change though and it’s something the artist will have to consider themselves. And if your name is being used by a lot of other artists, or if the name is being used elsewhere, you can consider changing your name to avoid confusion.
With that said, it is not uncommon for multiple bands to use the same name if they are from different countries and/or genres and were not aware of the other band(s) with the same name. For example look at Assassin, there are 3 music artists/bands with that name, one is a Thrash Metal band from Germany, another is a Hip-Hop group from France, and the last one is a Dancehall musician from Jamaica. If you can co-exist with the same name without a probable chance to cross paths, then you probably don’t need to change it. However, in some instances keeping a name can cause confusion, and maybe even start arguments in this age of social media. The artist themselves have to decide if changing their name is something they need to do.
My final thought is this, if your artist name is based off of your real name or sounds like a real name, then you can probably avoid all of this. Music artists with these types of names can make music in any genre, as long as there are no other artists with the same name. However, since a lot of us work under a name that sounds more like a brand than a real name, we have to remember our own limitations and be considerate of how others perceive us and our music. In a perfect world, we would be able to make whatever music we wanted to, under any name, without the judgment of others. But unfortunately, that is not how it is.